I recently read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. While reading the book, I had a few “Wow,” moments. …In which I actually said, “Wow,” out loud. (At least my dog doesn’t judge when I talk to myself). First, it is an incredible book. Second, there was a part in which Gladwell outlined parts of the London Blitz – the German bombing-invasion of London in 1940 and 1941 during World War II. Surprisingly, I felt that I could relate to some of what Gladwell was talking about.
Gladwell explains (referencing psychiatrist J.T. MacCurdy) three responses that Londoners had to the Blitz:
1. People who were killed
2. Near misses 3. Remote misses
Here’s what I want to dive into…
A near miss is a narrowly avoided collision or other accident. This results in trauma. These were the Londoners that were impacted by the bombs (likely injured, but survived) and were traumatized by the experience. It resulted in leaving the victims devastated.
A remote miss was when the Londoners (in Gladwell’s example) heard the attacks and bombings, may have been close to the destruction, but were energized rather than traumatized. In one example, he explains that a family elected to not flee London but to stay, excitedly saying something to the extent of… What? Leave? And miss all of this?! – referring to the excitement of the nearby bombings. Gladwell says, “A remote miss makes you think you are invincible.” It can actually leave you stronger. Another word associated with a remote miss is invulnerability – the property of being incapable of being hurt (physically or emotionally). And, it is acquired courage.
Can being a survivor of a heinous rape at gunpoint leave a person feeling like they experienced a remote miss? Can it leave a person feeling invincible? Can it change a person into being a thrill-seeker? Reckless? Energized? Full of new life?
Upon learning about a near miss and a remote miss, I want to acknowledge that I WAS NOT MISSED. The bomb went off on me, my life, my house, and my family. But I did not die – that is what the “miss” is, I guess. I fall in the near miss category because yes, I was injured, impacted, traumatized, and devastated. But I also fall in the remote miss category because I’m feeling (sometimes) energized, invulnerable, and stronger. And most of all, having acquired courage. I’m not always proud of this, but in multiple recent situations, I have thought of saying to people, “Try me,” or “Don’t poke the bear,” or “I dare you.” I was never like this prior to being attacked.
Experiencing the near miss (being injured, traumatized, devastated, but surviving and living to tell the tale), absolutely sucks (refer to most all of my previous posts where I elaborate on this). But I am attributing that luckily falling partly into the remote miss category is what is giving me energy to advocate (in my own way and on the Survivor Advisory Group to the Governor), write, and be on the path to making some changes for the better, for survivors. I became a person who does what I want; I am who I want to be (getting there, anyhow); I stand for what I think is right; I protect my friends and family; and I am a ruthless lioness. And of course, I now have this ferocious acquired courage. I promise you though, these feelings are not just the result of being raped by the man who is currently behind bars. It is accompanied with the rage of being sexually harassed more than just this one time. It includes the multiple other times it has happened since I separated from my husband. Rage has opened my eyes to actually living life, rather than being content.
How can trauma have such an effect? Weird.
References (sorry, not using APA format here, folks):
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
The Power of the Human Spirit by Ben Carlson