Friday, September 9, 2016

The Lasting Affects of Jacob's Abduction on a Stranger

I couldn't add this part into my previous 'The Days That Followed' blog post because I'm still in shock, I'm numb, and I'm in disbelief.  We've known that for almost 27 years someone knew something and we've all hoped and prayed we'd have an answer in our lifetime.

I'm angry that in some of the happiest of my days that Jacob's story was unfolded before our eyes and the devastating, gruesome, and dark truth came out.  I actually can't bring myself to read the confession.  Jacob's abduction has haunted my community for nearly 27 years.  I will not let this man, who's name I will never mention because the man deserves no recognition, rob me of more joy in my life!  He took too much from us and I won't allow him to ruin the joy I feel from Chloe's birth just a few weeks ago.  I think this is still why I'm numb. 

I was just a six year old little girl with blonde pigtails running carefree in the neighboring town when Jacob was abducted.  I was free and encouraged to bike or walk to school on beautiful fall and spring days with my older brothers.  I felt safe and had no fear in those six short years.  That all changed the moment my six year old ears learned that an 11 year old boy, who lived less than ten minutes from me, was abducted by a masked gunman while he was riding his bike with his brother and his friend.  I unknowingly welcomed anxiety into my life.  Fear that took years to control!  I was still encouraged to bike to school, but I couldn't bike, walk, run, or rollerblade anywhere without my heart pounding so hard that it felt like it might jump out of my chest.  I'm sure I looked like I was in a race when I was biking down county road 54.  The peddles on my light blue sparkly bike with little colorful plastic flowers that hugged the spokes of my wheels turned so fast that my little legs felt the effect of the lactic acid soon after I started on my one mile trek.  I would peak fearfully behind me for cars every few seconds.  God, I don't want to see a car!  Please don't let there be a car anywhere in sight.  The worst was when I spotted a car parked at the public beach.  I thought I might throw up ever time I biked by a lone car parked at that beach.  I biked into the small town of Avon nearly every single day during all my childhood years for summer rec, swimming lessons, allergy shots, and countless other activities.  EVERY SINGLE DAY I had the same fear.  I was terrified to bike into town.  I still did it, but that man robbed me of being that carefree little girl who was just biking as a mode of transportation to her activities. 
I remember wearing a button on my backpack for Jacob for many years and seeing his face plastered all over town and even on milk cartons. Patty Wetterling became a very familiar face as I watched her family in the media over the years.  From that point on, until this week, every time there was a person missing my immediate thought always became Jacob and the Wetterlings.  I shared Jacob's story with our kids from a young age.  When I heard our kids start talking about creepy cars while we're out running is when I realized the lasting affects that Jacob's abduction has had on that six year old little girl.  Again, unknowingly, I instilled fear into our children.  It's something I can't take back and so desperately want to.  It took many years and a couple therapists to figure out how to go for a run without being scared of creepy cars or people I cross along my path.  By years, I mean, I was well into my late twenties.  That man did this to so many of my childhood friends.  I'm sure we all have different ways we have coped with the stress and anxiety, but my whole little town was affected in some way, shape, or form. 

I've struggled with trichotillomania, a hair pulling disorder, for years and I have traced it back to the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.  You may find it unbelievable, but I had a conversation about this with my IPs while I was in labor and walking the halls of the Hudson Hospital on August 18th.  I told them about my trichotillomania and how it became my stress relief that started after Jacob was abducted, and I wish so badly that I could rid myself of this disorder.  Every year my husband and I write down our goals, and every year I have one goal that I can't seem to accomplish: quit pulling my eyelashes.  It's the one I just can't seem to cross off my list!  I remember being in sixth grade and having my school photo come home and my mom wondering why all of my eyelashes were missing.  I did it when I went to bed at night.  I didn't know I was doing it and I didn't know I would still be struggling with it at the age of 33.  Damn that man - that evil man that took so much from us!

Somehow our tiny little towns were hit hard with sexual abuse of young boys when I was growing up.  Not only that evil man, but some sick Catholic priests preyed on these young boys instead of praying for them.  I learned when I was 30 that my friend who committed suicide when we were in 7th grade was a victim of abuse.  The one I wrote about near the beginning of my blog, the one I heard the gunshot that took his life.  Oddly enough, my friend grew up in St. Joe.  The tiny little town Jacob was abducted from.  I'm guessing that his older brothers would have been around Jacob's age.  These are the tragedies we all had to deal with, and I just can't imagine how those boys that were victims and their lasting affects.  My heart goes out to them!  

And yet, somehow, we all pressed forward and all held onto hope and see this world as a beautiful place.  If you ask me about my childhood, I would tell you how amazing it was.  That has to do with my home life and my wonderful parents.  I truly did have the ideal childhood among the awful things I've experience.  These events made me who I am today.  I read 'The Power of Positive Thinking' many years ago and it shaped me into a whole new believer.  A believer in the powers of energy that connects us to everything.  I have a peace that surrounds my entire being.  I've gone from teaching our kids to fear others to teaching them to believe that the world is full of wonderful people.  Yes, we need to teach them safety (I'm a safety MOMster) and The Jacob Wetterling Resource Foundation has it all right.  I listened to them speak recently when we had a sex offender move into or neighborhood.  I took all the information I learned and shared the majority of it with our children.  "Stranger Danger" is a thing of the past.  They are full of great information and wonderful presenters!  You should become familiar with them. 

I'm sure my numbness about the answers we learned this week will wear off at some point.  My love goes out to Jacob's family, friends, our community, and state.  For now, I'm going to still feel all the endorphins from the miraculous birth of my second surrogate baby.  That man can't take that away from me!                         

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