Hello, my little lightbulb!
I hope that you’re doing well and feeling grounded. Something happened to me this week that left me feeling quite uprooted. My car was stolen on Tuesday night, which I discovered on Wednesday morning when I went to pick up my car in Rainhill, to find only an empty car park. What followed next was a blur (partially because I cried a lot).
I was running to and from the community centre in the rain, waiting for them to open so I could ask about their car parking rules and regs. I called the security company to check that they hadn’t towed it. Then, when I got into the community centre, soggy and cold, Vicki at reception let me look at the CCTV. We got to watch my car being taken by two guys at midnight, leaving nothing but a solitary dry patch on the floor, that was soon to be coloured in by raindrops. Following that, came calls to my mum, Beck and the police; claims to insurance; and posts to social media for people to keep an eye out for my beloved steed.
As Wednesday drew to a close, after a heavy de-stress gym session (thanks again Lewis!) I was well ready for bed. It was as I was falling asleep and reflecting on the day that I slowed down enough to realise that while I was gutted about the car, that wasn’t the only emotion I was feeling. The following day, while I was walking Charlie, the Joni Mitchell song (the one from Love Actually) came to mind. I found the lines repeating in my head, ‘something’s lost, but something’s gained’.
I wanted to share with you guys some of the things that I lost and some of the things that I gained in the experience of having my car stolen. You might be wondering what could possibly be gained from losing your car. Keep reading and hopefully you’ll find something useful and applicable to your own life, even if you haven’t had your car nicked.
Some Things Lost
My car : First things first, I lost my precious Umeboshi-san (Mr Pickled Plum or Mr Plum for short). So-called because of his beautiful magenta colour and my love of pickled plums. I’d gotten Mr Plum in August last year after a slow but sure realisation that my first car, Mushu, was starting to crumble. It was a difficult decision, with that first car bond being something quite special, but I knew it was for the best.
Financially, he may not have cost a lot for some people, but for me, it was a big deal and was my biggest ever monetary investment in myself. Mr Plum was a safer option for longer drives, he was my freedom and my stress reliever. Night drives to synthwave are my go-to stress buster and pass-time. Realising that it wouldn’t be possible for a while was a kick in the gut.
Keyring of my dad : On my keys was a picture of my dad, given to me by my Auntie Mary. It gave me a lot of comfort seeing him whenever I was out in the car, which was very often. When I saw that empty car park space, I had the immediate urge to speak to my dad and, failing that, to see his picture. Out of instinct I reached for my keys to look at him and felt that familiar sinking realisation.
This whole situation has made me miss him a lot. I feel like he would’ve known what to do and what to say to take the pressure off. He’d have been driving all over Liverpool on the hunt for my car and, most likely, would’ve found it.
Train ticket home from my Japanese Gramps : An irreplaceable item that I lost was a 180¥ laminated train ticket to Okadome Station, adorned with bells that makes it (as my friend said) sound like Christmas wherever I go. My Japanese Gramps gave me the keyring before I left Japan and completely melted my heart. He didn’t say much to me when I was over there, but he was always nearby, listening in and asking his daughter to translate.
One time we all piled ’round the computer to look at my house on Google Maps, before sitting around in the living room watching Studio Ghibli films after he got home from work. That keyring had a lot of meaning to me and I’d kept meaning to get it re-laminated to make it last longer.
New sunglasses that made me feel like Audrey Hepburn : TK Maxx steal. Legendary, diva, confidence-boosters, lost. I have to be honest though, I did amuse myself with the thought of the lads who stole my car trying them on and looking absolutely iconic as they ragged my car all over Merseyside.
Makeup, skincare stuff and car mats I meant to return : I didn’t think much about the small items until I was going to do my skincare or makeup and realised that I didn’t have my usual staples. I particularly missed my Ambre Solaire Garnier SPF-50 spray. I’d use this whenever I got in the car to top up my sun protection, for a hyaluronic acid hydration boost (and if I wanted to set my makeup!) Rebuying the lost items has been a small but annoying inconvenience. I guess those car mats aren’t getting taken back any time soon either.
Confidence / Trust : Having my car taken was a big blow to my confidence. My steady footing of what people were like and what a normal day looks like was knocked pretty harshly; leaving me on the ground feeling confused and quite vulnerable. We always think that things like crime don’t happen, or at least won’t happen to us… until they do. Then we ask why? We question ourselves, what we did wrong, why we deserved that thing to happen.
The truth is, we didn’t do anything wrong and we didn’t deserve that thing to happen. It’s the same with any crime that’s happened against you. If you’ve left your house unlocked and been robbed, that isn’t your fault. If you’ve walked home alone at night and been attacked or harassed, that isn’t your fault. If your abuser tries to blame you for their abusive behaviour, no matter how convincingly they do it, it isn’t your fault.
It’s hard to remember that at the time, especially with other people’s tendency to victim-blame, so please think it over now, while it isn’t happening right at this moment – it makes it easier to dismantle detrimental thinking styles later on!
Some Things Gained
‘Something’s lost, but something’s gained’ – there is always something useful or positive to be harvested from a negative experience. That doesn’t mean we have to be happy about what happened, believe me, I’m not ringing up the lads who took my car to thank them anytime soon. It does, however, remind us of our restorative power to turn adversity into experience and strength. Being forced to slow down and take time to consider where I’m at has allowed me to appreciate the people in my life, the progress I’ve made and how hard I’ve been working
A slower pace : No car means no driving, which means less zipping around from A to B to C and back to A again. This has given me the gift of operating at a slightly slower pace. The three jobs and a master’s are still firing on as many cylinders as possible, but I’m taking more time out for myself.
After being exhausted with the theft admin, I did something I haven’t done consciously in years, I started watching anime. I sat and thought, what is going to soothe my mind here; the first thing that came to me was to watch anime, so that’s what I did. It was such a change of pace! I sat, eating Easter-themed chocolates and didn’t feel guilty about fitness or eating or feel pressure to write my essay or lesson plan – it was absolutely lovely.
Not having a car released pressure, giving me a sense of relief, permission to rest and time to walk the dog in the morning and appreciate the sunrise.
Support : When I posted on social media that my car had been stolen I had messages of concern, advice and help from so many people. Friends and family were sharing my news to help find the car and checking in to see if I was alright and if I needed anything, including lifts (queue mental image of me being carried around like Yzma in the Emperor’s New Groove). I was able to catch up with people that I hadn’t spoken to in a little while and was relieved to find that they weren’t mad at me for my lack of contact, that the love was still there. Beck and Rob talked me through the insurance/ police bits, my mum made me the nicest meal and has been unbelievably patient giving me lifts to where I need to go. It was such an unexpected and heartwarming situation and one that I really appreciate.
Confidence / Trust : While I lost trust and confidence in people when my car was taken, I made it back tenfold. As I was falling asleep on Wednesday night, I thought that one act against me had birthed dozens of acts to support me; a destructive ember was flooded by a tsunami of love. It reminded me that while bad things can happen, good things happen more often – it’s just that they don’t hold our attention as easily.
People are fantastic and inspiring and I’m so lucky to have so many of these people in my life; who I can reach out to for help, who don’t care if I’ve been too busy or burnt out to keep in touch, who genuinely care about my safety and happiness.
Perspective : Before my car was stolen, I was feeling pretty numb and disconnected; ploughing through work, pushing through studies and just holding out to get my essay done to then move onto my dissertation, and get my master’s out of the way. Being able to stop and appreciate the smaller parts of my life that make it beautiful and unique has been difficult and I’ve been frustrated with myself for finding it difficult (counter-productive right?) Instead, I’ve been distracted by feeling stressed and unsure; wondering if my work is having an impact, if I’m good enough and just generally questioning my direction and path.
Feeling the flood of compassion from so many people living in so many places and doing so many things has been overwhelming. It made me cry a lot (happy tears this time). It made me think that if I matter enough to these people for them to check in and offer me help, then I must’ve had some positive influence in their lives- which made me motivated to keep going! I want to continue to help and support people, even if I’m not totally successful all the time.
I’ve learned from this experience that just letting people know that you’re there can make a world of difference in their lives. You have that power, how fantastic is that!? And I want you to know that I’m here for you. My inbox/ email is always open. Even if my replies take as long as a snail to cross a road, my reply will be as sincere and supportive as possible. You are never as alone as you think you are.
I was recently at an Aurora concert in Manchester and before one of her songs she was talking about people in her life who had struggled in silence for a long time, and the tragic consequence that that silent struggle led to. Our decisions aren’t just our own, they impact the people around us and the people around them and this can be such a powerful thing.
I hope my experience helps you to remember how absolutely amazing, inspiring and powerful you are. Your words and actions have unlimited power to help other people. And you have a network of people itching to help you. Sometimes all it takes is for you to let them know that you’re struggling. If you take one thing away from this post, please take the message that you aren’t alone. The world’s a scary place when you veil yourself away from the network of people who care for you. It’s a much more beautiful place when you remove that veil and see that love, actually, is all around.
Link to relevant post: June 2019: My Car Is My Best Friend