The End or Another Beginning

Names of the people in my story have been changed to protect their identity.

           The prosecution and defense had rested their case and it was in the hands of those twelve people I didn’t know to determine who they thought was telling the truth.  Would they believe I was the person the defense attorney tried to make me out to be?  I don’t remember how long it took them to deliberate and come up with a verdict.  When the verdict came in we were called into the courtroom.  As we stood there waiting for the verdict my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest.  I avoided any eye contact with Paul or his attorney.  What would my life be like after the verdict was read?  What would be my new normal?  Would it be like the last few months or be something totally different that I couldn’t imagine.

            He was charged with make/possess destructive device with intent to cause bodily harm, property damage, resulting in disruption to Government Operations and two counts of solicitation murder premeditated (one for me and one for Dean).  The verdict was read, he was sentenced to thirteen years with five years minimum mandatory with probation when he was released.

            It was over!  He was going to jail and I could get my life back, so I thought.  I didn’t realize how affected I was by all this.  I thought I would return to my normal self when everything was over.  I found it doesn’t happen that way.  Events in my life stay with me and unknowingly I found I had gradually changed.  I found I looked at things and people differently.  It is funny I didn’t know how affected I was by all this until years later when I started claiming my life back.  Change was gradual at how I looked at people.

            It took a while for the dust to settle and me to find my new normal.  Paul was going to jail and I could get my life back.  I wish it were that easy.  Just because the threat was behind bars did not mean my adrenaline or my developed cautious habits would stop.  All the things I did for survival during the past few months continued.  They say time heals all wounds but for me that didn’t happen.  Time heals some things but those ideas and thoughts of me and others run deep.  For me I had found I had to take action to start healing the deep wounds of self-esteem, trust and courage.  It took me years to start my journey for change.  Until then I seemed to be a magnet for untrustworthy people and people that continued to tear away at my self-esteem. 

            It was a number of years before I took what I considered my first huge step and went outside my comfort zone.  When I did this I did not know what kind of effect it would have on me.  Change of me was gradual but this was what I would call a jump start.  Everyone’s jump start event or the one thing that took them out of their comfort zone is different.  One person may think it is nothing for them to do but another may see if differently.

            Mine was taking a pistol course.  My only experience shooting was with a .22, my ex-husband got me.  It lasted for about two minutes.  All I remember was being hollered at for doing something wrong and I hadn’t even been told what not to do or do.  Like the first shooting experience it was more of here is the gun, put it in your hands and pull the trigger.  Other than the few commands of what I was doing wrong with no prior instructions that was my first shooting experience.  I probably shot 8-10 rounds before I had enough.  I was now more afraid of the gun.

            I did take the conceal carry course offered by the local sheriff’s office when I found out Paul wanted to kill me.  Dean encouraged me to take the course and when we went to the range I didn’t use the .22 I had, I used one of Dean’s guns.  The few rounds I shot with his gun didn’t make me all that comfortable with gun handling.  I never even sent it for my conceal carry license since the trial was over and the threat was gone, at least temporarily.  After Dean and I broke up I was again left with a gun I wasn’t comfortable handling.

            When I signed up for the pistol course I wasn’t sure what to expect.  One thing I knew was I would be going alone.   None of my friends were interested in going to the class.  I got there and found that men were a majority of the class.  I was nervous through the entire class.  It started with the morning in the classroom and then we went to the range.  I rented a gun and holster, still not using the only gun I had. I was always a shy person and the stuff with Paul that had happened had caused me to withdraw even more.

            Along with being one of few women in the class I think I was the only left handed person.  This is something that I got use to growing up.  Lefties were few and far between and learning some skills from a right hander were a little more challenging. To sum things up I was a woman in a class made up of a majority of men with shooting experience, I was left handed and right eye dominant.  For those of you that don’t understand what that means is it basically adds another challenge to my learning curve.

            We got to the range and I found my spot on the end of the lineup.  The class ended up being split into half due to the size.  After seeing us shoot a few rounds they split the class in half and I was with six guys.  There were a few ladies in the class that where in the other group.  I remember feeling intimidated and way out of my comfort zone.  The instructor kept advancing the class and had us doing some moving and shooting drills.  Every time the instructor wanted to add a more advanced move he looked at me to see if I was up for it.  I didn’t want them to think I wasn’t capable of learning these new skills and kept saying I am game when we were asked if we wanted to try a more advanced drill.  I found out later the other group was doing more stationary drills.

            I do remember was that I was not fast at loading magazines.  I was always the last to finish getting my mags loaded so the guys offered to help me so they could get to the line and start shooting quicker.  To all those students and instructors that were patient with me and my learning curve I say thank you.

            After we were done on the range we went inside to close the class.  That is when I found out they all thought I had shot before and that is why they put me with the more advanced students.  Surprise!

            When I was driving home after the class I felt different.  I felt empowered and my self-esteem grew after being battered down for so long.  I was a fear based person and stepping outside my comfort zone that day and successfully completed that class despite my fear and discomfort helped me look at myself differently.  This feeling was carried into other parts of my life.  I noticed I felt more confident at work and when I walked around in public.  Things that others take for granted like traveling alone some place were things I would shy away from until I took this class.  After taking the class I continued going to the range and practicing.  It didn’t matter that I might not know anyone there.  I must say when I started going to the range on a regular bases I have met the most awesome people that I now call my friends.  Friends that I know I can count on and trust if I need them.  These words “count on” and “trust” I never thought I would use again when talking about people.

            I would like to say this transition for me happened quickly after Paul went to jail but it did not.  I took the easy road for a while and just let the events with Paul control me and who I was.  It took a while to learn events don’t have to determine who I am.  I let them do that for a number of years.  Finally I decided I had enough.  I gave Paul and this event all of my power long enough and I wanted to take it back. 

            It was hard and uncomfortable but I began to use those events to build myself into the person I always wanted to be.  It didn’t happen in days, weeks or years.  It has been ongoing and I continue to grow and change.  I find myself driving hours by myself to gun competitions where I might not know anyone and continue to make lifetime friends.  I go to classes that continue to take me outside my comfort zone to learn more skills and test my abilities.

            If you want to stop letting events in your life define you and use them to define who you want to be try something that takes you outside your comfort zone.  Don’t be afraid to fail the first time.  Keep trying, keep changing, and keep building yourself up despite what people have told you.  I am continually challenging myself, trying something new.  Whether it is a new discipline of shooting or something totally different like dance lessons.  This is something else that takes me outside my comfort zone.  Thanks to the patience and encouragement of my instructors I am getting better at it.  I try not to succumb to fear and let it decide my movement and goals.

            If anyone that has been reading about my journey from Heels to Holster would like to talk to me feel free to message me on Facebook.  I have opened up myself about my story in hopes that it will help someone else.  Our journeys are all different and if I can help anyone navigate through theirs by my sharing that is my goal.  Thank you to everyone that read and shared my story with others, with people they thought may benefit from my sharing.

            A special thank you goes to Ruth and AJ at Epiphany Bakery for creating an atmosphere where I was able to feel comfortable sharing such an intimate part of my life.  Ruth is the owner and chef that prepared awesome food for me to snack on while I wrote.  AJ always greeted me with a smile and encouragement which I will be so very grateful for.  During my time there I met some very amazing people that have gone through some traumatic events in their life.  We are now friends and continuing to meet and share our journey.

            There were two places I felt the energy and comfort to share my story on paper.  The other was Starbucks at Vanderbilt and Airport Road.  Thank you to Jason the manager and the amazing and friendly baristas that greeted me each morning with a smile and tasty beverage.  I found sitting outside and writing while being greeted by little bird friends was very inspiring and motivating.  The birds knew I would share my breakfast with them little portions at a time like I was able to share my journey with each of you.  There is one bird that has started taking food from my hand.

            You are probably wondering what happened to Paul.  It was just in the past couple of years I found out he died in April 2005.  I did breathe a little easier the day I found out.  I didn’t even realize that the possibility of my running into him still rested in the back of my mind. 

            I know we have all heard that life is a journey.  What I am trying every day to do is accept it, embrace it and find humor along the way.  My Journey from Heels to Holster has been challenging and at times surreal, and one of constant change.  I continue to work on changing into a person I like and I am proud of being.

“Limits like fear are often illusions”
quote by an unknown pilot.

God Bless each of you on your journey.