Sorry for the Inconvenience Part II


PTSD Trigger Warning

Not my problem,
not my business?

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series – Part II

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”

What kind of world do YOU want?

As I began in Part I of this article, our society seems to be rapidly moving to a state where it is empathy-averse. This article is my attempt at trying to change that sad reality in some small fashion by telling my personal story.

The power of true stories

Sometimes hearing the stories of people you know, even a little, makes a greater impact than any urging to speak out, step up, and make a difference ever could. So I have written a three-part article sharing two personal experiences, several years past now, the first of which I shared in Part I.

My second experience is more disturbing, yet perhaps more important to my quest to foster empathy in those who seem to be more disposed to offer sympathy.  Not to post a spoiler, but the end of the story, Part III returns to a more upbeat tone that so many commented that they appreciated about Part I.

However, anyone who has never experienced needing help and not being able to get it has probably never thought about what a lack of empathy means in the life of someone they know. This part of the article gives everybody just a little taste.

Everybody wins – or loses

Science is unconflicted in their assertions that community is important to physical and mental health – both to those who give and to those who receive support — as well as about the dangers of remaining apart on either side of the equation.

I want to repeat another bit of text from Part I:

Sympathy is not the same as Empathy

Sympathy is “feeling sorry for” a person in a particular situation. It is a feeling that allows us to be grateful that we are not the ones going through the experience personally.

But it also fosters a pull to allow ourselves to sit back and do nothing to ease the burden for another.

Empathy is “putting ourselves in the shoes of another,” allowing us to imagine what we would find helpful and encouraging, and perhaps to step up to extend support – if only a little bit, and maybe more than that.

OR, as Bernadette from HaddonsMusings, host of the Senior Salon commented after Part I:

Sympathy is sitting on the sidelines;
empathy is getting in the game.

And now for the disclosure of some of the details of my more recent experience – even though it is now several years behind me.

As you read, I want you to keep in mind that, as disturbing as my experience certainly was, it pales in comparison to what many of our neighbors may shortly be facing unless enough of us step up and sing out.

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In a single moment, my life changed forever

I was gang-mugged at gunpoint on December 28th, 2013, if I recall correctly, returning from grabbing a bite to eat at Skyline Chili.

My house-guest Cindy had recently arrived, hungry and craving that particular type of uniquely-flavored chili that many love – it seems to be an acquired taste.  Skyline is open several hours past midnight, and is usually crowded with college students as midnight draws near.

Leaving the packed establishment several hours before closing, we drove to the house where I maintained a first-floor apartment. After unloading some of her things from the driveway to the front stoop of the house, she returned to street to park her car immediately behind my van.  Both cars were right in front of the house, which was only a few steps from the street itself.

While Cindy was retrieving a few remaining things from her car, I went to my van to replace the sunglasses I try to remember to leave in the vehicle. A group of “kids” ambled up the dimly-lit street, a couple with hands in the pockets of their hoodies, pants drooping half way to their knees.

Walking distance from Cincinnati State, that is not an unusual sight in this neighborhood. They even said, “Hey” in that taciturn fashion that teens often employ with grown-ups.

We never saw it coming until they were on us with a gun.

  • The band of thugs stole my purse and my tote-bag which, between the two, contained the keys to my van, my apartment, the front door to the building, and my rented storage space.
  • They also made away with my phone, wallet, checkbook and ALL proof of identity, my datebook containing back-up numbers as well as my schedule, my journal, my business cards, my ADD medication, makeup, hair brush, etc. — all of which had to be replaced at considerable cost to me and, except for my medication, NO benefit to them.
  • Between the two of us, Cindy and I lost almost a hundred dollars in cash, but the biggest loss to me – by far – was my autonomy.

And that’s not ALL

Cindy was pistol-whipped as she struggled to avoid being pushed into her car and driven who knows where — right behind my van on that dimly-lit street immediately in front of the house in which I had an apartment — where I was being held by one of them, looking helplessly on.

The ring-leader seemed to be high on crack, waving his gun around so wildly that even his “henchmen” seemed afraid of him.

The electric lights from the street to the house had been broken for a while.  Only two of the many lining the walkway were working — both closer to the house than our lit-by-gaslight street, so it was darker than usual in front of my abode.

I will always regret that I had not been willing to be more of a “pest” about the need to get them fixed – nightly, if that’s what it would have taken.

I’m fairly certain that was also the reason behind what happened the moment my cast was removed, but I’m getting ahead of the story.

Cindy managed to get away. Then they came for me.

“Now what do YOU have?” was all I heard before I was pushed to the ground near the middle of the street, face down next to my van, my dominant hand stepped on to make it unlikely that I would be able to provide a positive identification before they could run off into the night. The bones in my hand were crushed.

It took us almost thirty minutes of frantic banging before one neighbor reluctantly allowed us to use his phone to call the police.  His wife did not approve of his decision, more concerned that we would be so bold as to disturb them at that hour.

Before Cindy returned to her home in another state — despite a black eye, a swollen face and her own challenges as the result of what happened to both of us — she helped me obtain what the kids call “a burner phone,” gave me a shampoo and haircut, dusted and vacuumed my apartment, and bought me a large box of bath-wipes.

Thank you, Cindy. I had no idea at the time
how important those kindnesses would become
as day became week became month.

Physical healing first

Since I could not prove my identity (one of the many problems inadvertently created by the HIPAA legislation) –  or drive myself around to hospitals or anywhere else — it took almost two weeks to get a cast upon a badly broken hand.

Had it not been for the kindness of friend and colleague Peggy Ramundo, still reeling from her own recent tragedy, I don’t know what I would have done. I am grateful to her for other supports she was able to extend subsequently.

I STILL cannot “prove” my identity, by the way, since each of the documents I was finally able to replace are still wrong in different ways and must be replaced yet again. Again.  (Take the time to read the rest of the article before your mind drifts further toward, “Well, why don’t you just . . .” )

Finally!  A bit of a reprieve

Slightly over a month after the incident, I returned home with xrays that showed enough healing of the multiple compound fractures I sustained during the robbery to move to the next step.  I was finally able to have what is referred to as a removable cast on my right arm, supporting further healing of my hand for the next two months.  Since it was “removable,” it was no longer necessary to worry about getting it wet.

As I said in one of the updates to NO contact possible: mugged at gunpoint, the great news was that, after 33 very grungy and self-esteem decimating days, I could finally take a full bath and wash my hair. 

It also meant that I could begin the process of training the fingers of my dominant hand to work in consort once again.  Tendon damage over the breaks had “crippled” my two middle fingers.  I still could not type very well (or quickly), but I was finally able to practice – and to use my trackball.

ONE day at a time . . .

icystepsIt seemed impossible, still, for me to zip a zipper, or tie on shoes with tread so that I could get down the icy steps to the slippery drive to the snowy streets.

I was too afraid that the treadless slip-on boots I relied on inside, attempting to balance with only one arm, would result in an accident that would extend the time I would be without autonomy.

It was still not safe for me to attempt to drive, so getting myself to the grocery store and back remained impossible without help — at least until the ice and snow melted so that I could walk safely to the street to catch a cab, assuming I had access to a working phone to be able to call one and cash available to pay the fare.

I still could not reliably, or without a great deal of time and frustration, use the internet, or communicate effectively by email.  My virtual business needed to remain suspended until I could handle those details, replace my contact numbers and obtain a reliable phone – no income, savings depleting rapidly.

For over a month, alone and without much help, I had existed on oatmeal, peanut butter by the spoonful, and beans and rice – until I no longer had a clean pan in which to boil water to make the Minute Rice™ that was all that remained in my pantry.

FINALLY, thanks to my “removable” cast, for the first time in 33 interminable days, I was able to begin to wash the dirty dishes and utensils — rinsed but not clean, pots soaking as they awaited a scrubbing — that covered almost every surface in my kitchen.

DO try this at home

If that makes no sense to you intellectually, tie your dominant hand behind your back and attempt any of the activities I have mentioned.  Try to pull your pants down quickly to go to the bathroom without “accident.”  Try to do ANY of the hygiene-related tasks involved if you cannot.

Borrow a phone you are not used to using, and attempt to input a number or pay a bill by phone.  Remember, you cannot make a single note, so whatever the recorded voice tells you to do you must keep active in your short-term memory.

Pretend you have no access to the new bank account you were forced to open until your new debit card arrives at the bank you can not get yourself to so that you can activate it and bring it home.

Try not to panic over the tick-tick-tick of each day that brings you closer to service shut-offs.

Try not to freak out when your “burner” phone is disconnected two days earlier than explained to you it would be, because you had no access to the funds to prepay for an additional month.

Imagine that it happened on the very day that you needed to get to the Hand Clinic that was only available ONCE a MONTH.  Try not to worry about the fact that your replacement phone has still not arrived.

My experience was a harsh lesson in patience with practically total lack of autonomy. Day after day, I sat in the clothes I slept in, waiting for help I have been used to providing, not requesting.

Thank God for Hulu Plus – having no television, it helped to pass the time and take my mind away from my situation for a bit – giving me a much needed break from what rapidly became chronic anxiety, verging on blind panic.

Take a walk on the weird side

You have NO idea the number of things you suddenly will no longer be able to do unless you immobilize your dominant arm, nor will most of you be able to imagine the implications to the forward trajectory of your life.  I know I did not, even as I ruminated over the impact beyond my ability to type, use a trackball, or make a living.

My driver’s license still has one version of my name and address, my bank cards have two others — and none are correct.

I am 5’8″ tall and currently weigh between 140 and 145 pounds.  I have dyed my naturally dark-brown hair a shade or two lighter since the first gray hairs made their appearance.

The police report – the only identification in my possession for weeks – STILL says I am older than I am, weigh much more, am considerably shorter, and that my hair color is grey.  Even my name is spelled incorrectly.

Why does that matter?
Insurance reimbursement for financial losses incurred.

  • For months I had no medication and my car was still in the shop because the door locks and ignition had to be replaced. I was unable, even, to drive it home.
  • My neighbor was “just getting ready to fix dinner” when he said a sympathetic “sorry” when I asked for his help.  Two days later I finally found two people willing to spend the 15 minutes it took to get my car back to me.

Be careful how you communicate

Sympathetic folks everywhere were eager to extend platitudes to remind me to think positively.  After a while, I wanted to slap them.

Everyone probably meant well, but I did not need “an attitude adjustment”
I needed empathy, attempts at understanding and practical help.

Given all, my “attitude” was just fine, thank you – especially for someone who could do little but wait on “the kindness of strangers” for several months — people who were, understandably, VERY busy with their own lives.

I needed help with food, transportation, assistance putting on the warmth of a heavy coat with a hand to hold to stabilize me so that I did not slip and fall on the icy steps and sidewalk that need to be shoveled and salted, causing further damage that would have taken possible surgery and even more money and recovery time.

I needed help to put my life back together using the “You can do this on the internet, you know” systems in place, and understanding of the implications of my continued assertions that I was still unable to do much at all with my dominant hand.

Nothing lasts forever

The final portion of this story is quite a bit more upbeat although similarly difficult – but it might NOT have been were it not for more than a little help from a couple of friends several states away.

I hope you will stay tuned for the conclusion, which will post next Wednesday.
(Part III available now HERE)

Don’t Forget

Again, I want you to keep in mind that, as disturbing as my experience certainly was, it was absolutely nothing in comparison to what many people must live with every single day, and what many who were not born in this country may shortly be facing — unless enough of us step up and sing out.

© 2017, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

Thanks to Teddi for the picture of her cooking with one hand tied behind her back.
Read her great tips about products that make it possible HERE.

Shared on the Senior Salon

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

135 Responses to Sorry for the Inconvenience Part II

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  2. reocochran says:

    Oh my goodness! Such a tragic and horrifying experience you and your friend went through! So close to being healed from another traumatic experience, too. I wish you didn’t have to go through this nor your pistol whipped friend. Just a big tragedy. 😦

    I used my birth certificate and an expired passport to get my bank to withdraw money. They knew me but needed proof. Only because I mentioned that my purse was stolen. My situation was quite as painful but still to this day I feel violated.

    I was at a computer when someone used their feet to pull my purse towards their feet and backpack. An adult white male got caught on surveillance video. The library staff know what he looks like, he was charged with fifth degree felony. I had a victim’s statement written and was requesting a repayment for expensive Transitions glasses, contact pair, cell phone, three gift cards (it was Mother’s Day weekend, two years ago.)

    I don’t go to the library computer room anymore since although he is allowed to remain private, he has sat by me! (A friend but library staff so she cannot tell me which man or when!) Why do criminals have more rights than average law abiding citizens?!
    mgh added white space for readability for those who struggle with longer strings of text; words unchanged

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry to read about your losses as a result of your purse snatching. Hateful! I’ll keep that in mind when I’m in the library or a restaurant, and keep my purse in my lap or wrap the strap around my foot. (Yet another reason to be frustrated by the lack of pockets in women’s fashion).

      I agree – victims have a right to ID info that supersedes a criminal’s privacy rights – especially in this case when the thief was caught on video and clearly knows who YOU are. Were you not allowed, even, to face him in court?

      Mine were never apprehended. Even though they had been on a spree that night and we were not the only victims, they kept to the dimly lit Gaslight nabe’ and did what they could to make sure that none of us would be able to make a positive ID.

      It does forever alter one’s sense of safety in the world.


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  7. bethbyrnes says:

    I had a hard time pushing the “like” button.

    What can I say? Nightmare doesn’t come close enough.

    The biggest takeaway is the lack of help from those right there, who couldn’t even inconvenience themselves a little to give you help you desperately needed. I hope I am never like that.

    I am pretty ambidextrous, but doing things with one hand, either single hand, would make everything 100x harder, if not impossible.

    Honestly, Madelyn, you have a great deal of inner strength that you did not let this derail you completely. I am not sure I would have that kind of mettle. I hope I am never tested in this manner.

    What else can I say of any use? You could write a book that might help other victims navigate this infuriating and stressful process.

    I was at least somewhat relieved to find out this happened a few years ago, even though it must be seared in your memory as if it were yesterday. I felt I had been oblivious when I thought it was recent. But, little matter about that. The important thing is to digest all that happened and all you have said.

    That will take me some time.

    Hugs, again. ❤


    • I know what you mean about that “like” button. I wish it were a “thanks for posting” button or “read it” button or something. I think FaceBook started the LIKE button craze.

      I would never have written or posted this story while I was still going through it, Beth, even if I could have dictated for someone else to type and post. I did not want to inspire sympathy for ME – increased empathy in the world was always my goal. I did hunt and peck a few details in real time (and shortly afterwards), hoping to explain where I’d “gone” so I would not lose forward momentum on

      Since the entire story is a long one, I chose to split it into parts for contrast. Although I tried to “catch people up” if they tuned in late, it reads best from the top of Part I — fairly positive even though the time I could not walk was a great deal longer. Part II is the “darkest” before Part III demonstrates how MUCH difference empathy (or total lack of) can make to the life of someone else.

      As I wrote in one of the parts, the silver lining to this experience would be that it would resonate with anyone reading, who would be more likely to step up to help others in the future. Thanks for the considerable time from your life to read it in, essentially, one go. Most of the readers read it weekly, giving them more time to reflect and digest.


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  10. Bernadette says:

    Madelyn, what an absolutely horrible thing to happen and the aftermath sounds almost as bad as the attack. It is so very disheartening to read that people are so self absorbed that they refused to help you. But having written this last sentence my mind goes back to the woman who was beaten, raped and killed in NYC while people turned their back. I can only imagine how difficult it was to have your dominant hand broken. I had carpal tunnel surgery on my dominant hand and couldn’t use it for two weeks. It was a real challenge and I had a husband and friends to help me navigate the difficulties. I hope the your post traumatic stress from this fairly recent descent into your own private hell is no too bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for taking time to comment so kindly, Bernadette. Yes, any time we must do things one-handed everything gets tougher than most people can imagine – and I’m sorry to read that you don’t have to imagine.

      Fortunately I know personally what a difference having loved ones help makes (functionally, but mostly emotionally) – I wrote about that in Part I (and again in Part III). I chose to include the darker side for context – since my objective is to increase empathy in everyone who reads so that they might be more likely to offer assistance to people in their world ever after.

      The experience is essentially behind me now, tho’ I’m still struggling a bit with PTSD — still can’t fall asleep in a silent house, for example, and am more than a little bit hypervigilant when I see groups of male college students (common here since I now live across the street from a private dorm). But I’m working on it and it seems to be responding – albeit slowly. I’m grateful that my hand is practically fine now – just a bit slower and less accurate on the keyboard. Thanks for wondering,

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing and inspiring you are….I am so moved by what you share…I can only imagine….and, still, you remain true to your nature….your post really speaks to me….empathy-averse….yes, I hear you…I’ll likely write a post iabout it n the near future–inspired by you….you are incredible…thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. dgkaye says:

    A truly horrific story Madelyn. I won’t even pretend to imagine what you went through. I’m sure hoping for a happier Part 3. I won’t get into the details of my own mugging, but suffice it to say, it was the after affects that scared me for a very long time, like having all my identification stolen and becoming afraid to be alone in my own home. I kept the alarm on while in the house for almost 2 years. It’s not surprising why people are pyschologically damaged for years, even life after this personal violation. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. mistermuse says:

    Looking forward to Part III because I don’t know what there is to say about Part II that hasn’t already been said. Even additional smiley faces seem inadequate. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I am terribly sorry to hear about what happened to you, Madelyn. In South Africa there is also a lot of violent crime but one tends to think that these things don’t happen in developed countries. I think that it is awful that you had no one to help you. You did really well to get through it all so well. My Mom had a shoulder operation and couldn’t use her right arm for 2 months. It was very difficult for her and my Dad and I were both around to help her. My aunt also had a hip replacement in early December and she came to live with us for 5 weeks as she needed help. I am so grateful for my family.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Robbie. How wonderful that you were willing and able to be there to help your mother and your aunt. While it certainly must have been an interruption in the rhythm of your own life, I’ll bet there were many benefits as well – to you, and certainly to them. As I suggested in Part I, when friends or family gather to offer help and companionship, even bad times become much less so and foster many happy memories.

      Some of us were blessed to be born into families who make it a point to remain close to one another, others must figure out how to gather friends who become family. I don’t think any of us get through life very well without the physical closeness of friends that tech-relationships simply cannot provide. I worry that close relationship skills are not being fostered in today’s tweeting/texting world.

      There are small towns where isolation in misfortune rarely happens (in the American South especially, where church is often the center of community life). Even new-comers are welcomed with repeated visits and gifts of food in those communities – which was once found in America everywhere.

      I was relatively new to Cincinnati at the time, and my experience has been that many folks here seem to prefer to remain aloof toward people who haven’t lived here forever. I have found it a tough town in which to create community – and I have lived in more places than most people and rarely have had trouble making friends.

      I have always believed that one of the tragedies of so called first-world countries is the isolation of ambition – especially in big cities, but more recently everywhere else. More and more, it seems anymore, making a living takes so much time and attention that we can’t develop the connections that happen only over time and shared activities. Science has begun to study what they are calling “the loneliness epidemic.” We need each other during misfortunes, especially, but on ordinary days as well.

      Thieves know no nationality – and that alone is bad enough for their victims – but it is It difficult to understand the thinking behind violent crime, which seems from the news reports to be on the rise everywhere. I doubt that anyone recovers from misfortunes without the connection of others. I would not have, in any case. Empathy is truly life-support!

      In Part III I share what a difference it can make when people empathize and offer assistance – the point of the article and the reason I am sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your point about criminals have no nationality is well made. Crime is on the increase and that is partially a result of the still unresolved global crisis which has strained the Western economic system. I think it is also partially a result of our Western lifestyles. Life is so rushed and busy, there is little time for the children with parents pushed to earn a living and with so much expected of workers these days. The children are neglected and get into bad ways and form gangs and other groups in a search for affection and acceptance [this is what I think]. When I first started working, I didn’t have email or a cell phone – this concept was just starting. When I left the office, that was it, people couldn’t contact you and work ended. Now, with email and cell phones, work never ends. Clients and businesses expect people to be available practically 24/7. It is a bad thing!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know! When email first began I noticed an immediate rise in totally unrealistic expectations and self-focused requests. Keeping up with email and emptying your inbox daily began to be its own full-time job! And I think it has only increased with texting, tweeting, etc.

          If one can’t stop everything else to respond IMMEDIATELY, folks seem to get their noses out of joint. I think the only nasty emails I’ve ever received were a result of times when I simply could not be available for reasons beyond my control. Rather than assuming there was a competing priority, folks tended to resend several times, with increasingly annoyed and annoying comments. They might as well say, “I can fire this off in under a minute, so what’s wrong with you?” as if theirs was the ONLY email in your inbox and you have nothing else to do but email them back.

          I truly hate being made to feel I must apologize for having a life beyond responding to attempts to contact me. Ditto responding to comments (despite the fact that I’m pretty darned good about staying on those, even though the rest of my life suffers as a result). Meanwhile, authentic connection seems to have all but disappeared. We’re all slammed dealing with virtual requests for time and attention.

          It seems to be especially difficult for those with ADD/EFD distractibility or hyperfocus challenges, but it affects everyone negatively — to the extent that scientists are actually getting funding to study it! I agree that it is not only a bad thing, it’s horrible — and truly lousy modeling for kids.

          Liked by 1 person

  15. Lots of lovely messages for you on this one Madelyn. Sadly as you say a lot of people who don’t have a support system are going to find out very shortly what not having one means. It’s hard enough when you’re not well or injured or traumatized when you have people who are willing to help. But as you know from experience, it’s a damn sight harder without it. Yet you are still big hearted enough to bounce back and are now helping others. That shows a lot of character and strength. Well done Madelyn xx

    Liked by 1 person

  16. You are such a fighter – take each day one step at a time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for commenting and caring. This story is from my past, sharing to allow others to read without feeling as if they had to help me – hoping to domino the empathy lesson in the lives of others who are in need of kindness and attention.

      Part III is more like the first part – Life is only dark when we are left in isolation. We can ALL prevent that in the lives of others – a win/win/win situation where society benefits as well.


  17. Madelyn, Madelyn what a horrible moment in time for you and one that has got to always be with you. As horrible as it was we appreciate you making the time to share this with us.

    We all tend to think someone else lives a charmed life because they seem so accomplished and have it all together without thinking for a moment that maybe, just maybe there is more that is not known that has made this person who they are. Your ordeal has permitted you to experience something we all dread and think will never happen… but then does.

    Tragically for many it is only after something like this happens that we suddenly develop empathy for others that have undergone such a horrific experience. I know this has been the case for me/us.

    By you sharing this with us perhaps we can learn the importance of empathy for others. If only we all would or could share without ridicule the world would have more understanding?
    [mgh adds: that is EXACTLY why I shared this story!]

    I know my career helped me to learn empathy and sympathy and I am so so, so thankful. Thank you for your bravery in stepping outside the boundaries of safe to share something so difficult and traumatic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and post this comment – you GOT it totally: we *never* know, so we assume our assistance is probably not needed and move on with our busy lives. SO untrue.

      Kindness and empathy are always needed – and especially when tragedy strikes. It is more difficult to request help to begin with than most imagine – and after a few “too busy” rejections when help is desperately needed, depression sets in rapidly.

      I began in Part I showing the difference that empathetic company made to my recovery following my first disaster. Part II is intended to show the flip side, before Part III changes tone again – offering a middle view.

      I’m fairly certain that I am correct to say that you had a high level of empathy to begin with or you never would have choosen that career in the first place – you merely sharpened those skills during those years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So totally got it for sure Madelyn. I/we’ve been there and its taught us to never take for granted what we have learned in those dark corridors of life’s harsh moments. It drives home the scripture “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”.

        Through out our travels we encounter so many moments, small and big, when we are given opportunity to listen and encourage while at the same time being listened to and encouraged.

        We are learning that the more we give, the more we get and we can never out give the giver. Yes, we like the way you are illustrating the sides of your situation as a map for us all to navigate in our own encounters with others.

        Your observations I believe are spot on with regard to the gift I have been given and am so thankful for it. He has not only given it to me but has shown me how to use it for Him by sharpening it.

        What you are writing about is what makes this world of blogging so wonderful. It allows us to share our experiences with each other and to learn, and to teach and to grow! We can truly say we learn so much from the people we are getting to know here.
        mgh added white space for readability for those who struggle with longer strings of text – and a bit of formatting for emphasis; words unchanged


        • Being in community simply feels good, doesn’t it? While there have been times I have been the recipient, it feels REALLY good to be the giver. It’s a lesson I hope to pass along. Our world needs more givers.

          I totally agree that developing a world-wide community is the best part of blogging – getting to know people through comment interactions in addition to what they choose to write about initially. I think, in some ways, it is the virtual equivalent of events like book-signings, conferences and seminars (and gab-fests in college dorms – lol).

          Without the comments we’d all be sending out messages in bottles, tossed into the sea from our own little islands, never knowing who read them or if those “likes” indicated that they were ever actually read at all.

          Reading and responding can be incredibly time-consuming, of course, but time well-spent, IMHO – as is taking the time to read the comments under the articles we’ve read. Science says it’s even good for our health. (On blogs other than my own, I primarily read or engage further with the longer ones and skip right past the ones that share little beyond “good job!” unless I’ve engaged with them through a longer comment before.)

          In any case, I would probably not have run into you two if not for blogging, and I already feel like I know you better than could possibly be the case, with a resulting feeling of closeness that usually comes after a great deal more time in person. I am so grateful.

          Liked by 1 person

          • We too are so grateful Madelyn. We never could have imagined how wonderful an experience this would be. And to think how long those messages in the bottle would have taken to reach their destinations, lol. We feel so close to many of the people we are coming in contact with as they share bits and pieces of their lives. We feel privileged to hear their stories of joy and heartache. There are so many like yourself that really take the time to engage and you know they are reading are post with genuine interest based on their touching responses. And to think we have all just begun our journeys together!

            Liked by 1 person

  18. What a horror story! And the most amazing part is that you survived all that and came through with flying colors. You are a fighter! But didn’t you have any family or friends to call upon for help?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wendy says:

    I knew most of this story and it was still hard to read. It’s hard for me to fathom people just not helping. To lack empathy. It’s just something I don’t understand. I hate you went through that. xo wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Maria @ says:

    I echo everyone’s sentiment that this was difficult to read. I hope this post helps people realize that we desperately need more empathy driven responses to our cry for help since sympathy is so cheap it comes a dime a dozen. It made me think about myself – although I try to be empathetic- if there was any circumstance where I felt sorry for someone but didn’t put my best effort forward to help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honest and hearfelt – and brave. We’ve ALL done it. The point – and my hope – is that after reading this (and writing it) we’ll all be less likely to do it as often — and especially that we’ll come together to always speak out in support of groups who are being stigmatized for any reason, even if the person beating the drum is a supposed leader. We can ALL do that!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie provides us with a hair-raising event from her own life experience just how important it is to have empathy for others who come into your life. Please read on…

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Horrendous. I’ve been mugged but not at gunpoint and only had knee damage that has been painful since then without anything available to help it. But I know only too well, because of disability, what it’s like to have no control over one’s life and circumstances and be casually thrown a ‘sorry’ but not a lifebelt. I don’t know how people live with themselves. Empathy is vital and empathy needs action if it’s within your power. It’s one of the reasons I’m so delighted to be living on the Isle of Wight because people here are so kind and offer help almost before you’ve asked for it. When I was still in Crete and my ex was in London trying to sell my flat, the promised help from the retired ex-pats there never materialised, not even the promises to keep an eye on me. But our Greek friends, even though they were coping with three or four jobs to survive, were the ones who went out of their way to offer practical help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment. I was sure you would empathize – as would anyone who has been forced by circumstance to cope alone when help was truly needed at times.

      I’m happy to read that you are among kind and helpful people. No accident, I suppose, that those who have been forced to live with little are the first to reach out when someone else is in need. They GET it!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. robjodiefilogomo says:

    Truly a difficult experience to read—let along go through Madelyn. Because these things probably happen daily, yet living in my little bubble, I don’t even know about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Jodie, and leaving this comment. Most of us online, in the US anyway, live fortunate lives. It CAN be very hard to relate to something you have never been forced by life to consider. That’s exactly why I wrote this part of the story.

      These things happen, and so much worse – and probably in the lives of people every single one of us know. That’s my point. We can’t join the black hats or our world is doomed – we have to come together and support each other.

      I want to share one of my favorite little anecdotes:
      A man is walking down a starfish covered beach at low tide and comes across a woman pitching starfish after starfish back into the sea, saving their lives. The man pooh-poohs her efforts because, “There are too many of them. You know you can’t make much a difference.”

      The woman replies calmly, as she hurls another starfish back into the ocean, “It made a BIG difference to that one.”

      Empathy and not in a nutshell!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. -Eugenia says:

    This was difficult to read, Madelyn. What you endured shouldn’t have happened. Thank god you lived through it and have the courage to write about it. It’s unfortunate they weren’t caught but it will catch up with them. Karma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sometimes wish that karma would catch up to them someplace I could watch it happen – even though my keen sense of empathy would probably kick in even then, and I’d feel sorry for the buggers – which would probably make me mad at myself once I had a chance to reflect. Better that than wishing others ill, however. I’ll let karma do her work.

      Thanks for this comment, Eugenia – part 3 is a much easier read, and I learned A LOT from the experience, so it wasn’t *all* bad. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  25. This was a hard one to read, Madelyn. I’m so sorry for all that you went through. The physical confrontation and injury were difficult enough, but the fear, the insecurity and helplessness at the loss of your identity…so much worse to me. You are a true survivor, looking forward to the next part of your story. It seems there are blessings there to be revealed. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. GP Cox says:

    I think I can feel empathy for what happened toward you and the resulting difficult situations that followed. Although my situation was not quite like yours, that feeling of helplessness [for no matter how long a time] is unsettling and brings up questions in your own mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true, GP – helplessness in the face of adversity is the essence of PTSD, actually. So many people feel helpless in today’s world, it seems to me, little thinking that helping another actually reduces that feeling – making us feel more powerful in our own lives than thinking only of ourselves ever could.

      My hope in sharing this portion of my story is that, in the future, when people might otherwise be reluctant to step up to offer even a little bit of assistance, they will have integrated something of what might be going on with someone else and will be able to empathize, which will lead to action.

      Each of us can change the world for someone – and DO, whether we take action or refrain from it.

      I believe that part of the reason for a lack of demonstrated empathy that appears to be increasing, is that so many of us prefer not to think about our impact on our fellow beings. It is most dramatic in the actions of our politicians currently, so it seems to me, but plays out in little ways in many lives that make no more sense in terms of the kind of world I hope that we all would like to see around us.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. I felt shocked reading of your trauma, but more so by your lack of support. However, I wonder more about the non physical after effects of this experience on both you and your friend. I cannot imagine how you felt/feel. I do not think you could ever be the same person after an attack like that.
    Bernadette’s words are very wise as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. lwbut says:

    I am extremely grateful that i have never experienced anything that would allow me to truly relate to this experience. It is to your credit that you are able to both function as well as you do and to be able to write about it and choose to help others gain empathy from it.

    Your story says a lot about the kind of dysfunctional society we live in when we live in large cities, where the more people are forced together the further apart they can become. We should probably learn something from that as well as empathy for others.

    The ‘It’s Not My Problem’ syndrome does not seem to be so prevalent in Aussie culture or City’s, certainly not in mine (Perth, pop ~2 million) although in time if the media has it’s way we may start catching up with other ‘civilised’countries’ 😦

    Hope you can ‘Prove’ yourself soon Madelyn 😉


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Love – and I’m glad to read that you have experienced nothing of this sort in your own life. My desire to increase empathy in our world is the only reason I’m sharing.

      The conclusion is a much easier read – more hopeful and upbeat – but I wanted to put a human face (mine!) on what happens when we do NOT empathize, taking the time to think what might be helpful and actually DOING something to reach out, however small.

      I knew it would be a difficult read – and worried about how it would land since few of us are truly comfortable even imagining the struggles of another. But I think it is important, from time to time, for each of us to face head on the reality of our impact on one another.

      I hoped that perhaps it would be easier since this was something from my past – but still uncomfortable enough to make the point clearly.


      • lwbut says:

        It seems empathy is alive and well, here at least. My 84 year old mother was doing some weeding on her front lawn and had finished and was about to get up from her kneeling pad (She’s in pretty good nic for her age). As she was making the effort to rise (it’s not that easy these days!) A big SUV stopped by her and the window wound down and a young woman (total stranger) stuck her head out and asked if she needed help getting up! 🙂 Mum made it by herself but thanked the lady for her concern who then smiled and drove away.

        Kinda restores one’s faith in our common humanity.


        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you for sharing that example, Love. It does my heart good and puts a smile on my face.

          And you know, if your mother HAD needed help, it would have taken practically no time out of the other woman’s life and would have been such a huge blessing to your mum — to them BOTH, actually.

          We’ll all be old enough to worry about getting up and down some day — if we’re lucky.

          Liked by 1 person

  29. jac forsyth says:

    Damn. I didn’t want to click like, but there is something about the importance of you sharing this story that made me cry 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Goodness what a dreadful experience. I can only partly empathise as I had my dominant arm in a sling for 6 weeks back in 2006 for a tennis elbow operation. It made me appreciate the dexterity of my right arm and hand after the healing process had ended. Yesterday on the way to my second radiotherapy appointment I saw somebody who had no limbs at all and yet was still getting themselves around perfectly fine in an electric wheelchair. I figured the last thing that person needed was sympathy. Sometimes you just don’t want to be pitied.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Challenging enough to be able to empathize with the difficulties – and thanks for taking the time empathize with mine in this story.

      I’m with you on how obnoxious pity can be! Although sympathy and pity aren’t exactly the same, I’ll bet they feel the same to many people on the receiving end.

      When my leg was broken (Part I), I was amazed by how many people I met on the streets of NYC who were using crutches, walkers, in wheelchairs, etc. Upbeat stories of courage in the face of adversity from all of them – and they seemed to show up any time I was tempted to feel sorry for myself.

      It made me feel terrible that I had never noted them before. I’m sure they didn’t materialize for my benefit alone, simply to lend perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Sue Vincent says:

    A dreadful experience!

    Not at all the same thing, but after tendon surgey on the none-dominant hand, it was strapped round my neck for a fortnight. I was alone with two small children to care for and remember how difficult it was. It doesn’t matter which hand it is, dominant or not, when you need the bathroom…and tights become the invention of the devil…But that was only a couple of weeks…
    Nick, my son, was paralysed down his entire right and dominant side after the attack. He still has only limited movement and coordination and will not regain more than that now. Just the lack of that hand, regardless of all the other problems, means he needs constant help.

    I love Bernadette’s definition of the difference between empathy and sympathy. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading & ringing in, Sue. I’m sure it was difficult, given what you’ve been through – more with Nick than even what you experienced personally.

      Re: B’s definition – I loved it too, obviously. I am SO grateful that I didn’t have to figure out how to care for small children during my own ordeal. Amazing what we can do when we have no other choice, isn’t it?

      Tights (or leggings)? -NO way -lol. For many weeks I lived in a paint-splattered pair of red sweatpants in which I had already replaced the tie with elastic . ::shudder::

      I want you to know that I thought of Nick’s response to his struggles every minute of writing this article. Although I do not mention him by name, I am certainly referring to his ongoing challenges in the conclusion to this article.

      HOWEVER – don’t give up on his recovering additional movement ability, and don’t let him. The Taub Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama has *many* stories of “miracle” recoveries – even many years post injury or stroke. The game has changed. google “Taub CI therapy”


      • Sue Vincent says:

        I’ll look them up…Thanks, Madelyn. We don’t give up trying…But equally, Nick’s recovery is already several thousand times better than his prognosis. But if there is a limit to progress, we haven’t found it yet 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nick has an attitude and drive that is uncommon – and I believe the miracles in his life will continue as a result.

          My suggestion was to underscore the reality that medical science used to believe there was some sort of “recovery window” beyond which little to no further improvement could be expected. Taub’s work has blown that idea out of the water – but it still hasn’t trickled down to the majority of “the doctors down the street.”

          FAR too many of them are still mired old thinking, unintentionally demotivated patients in their misguided attempts to avoid giving them “unrealistic” expectations. With what little we understand about neuroplasticity, still, we have no IDEA what’s really possible -or how common or uncommon these “miracle” recoveries actually are — or could be.


  32. how scary… and this guys have no clue what it means for a victim apart from the stolen things and the physical pains… the scary on our soul are much more difficult to treat than the scars on our skin ;o(

    Liked by 1 person

    • They were never caught – as they made sure that none of us could positively ID them (we were the 3rd of several attacks using the same MO, according to the police, and not the last).

      I kept hoping that some of my things would be recovered, but I never again laid eyes on anything they stole. But, as I said, THINGS were the least of what they ran away with that night.

      Fortunately for all of the victims, there was no gunfire – it could have been SO much worse! And fortunately for me, I eventually had some help that made it possible for me to return to doing what I do today.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Part III won’t be nearly so dark.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Lucy Brazier says:

    I am riveted by this story and my heart aches for you at those low times when you struggle without help from neighbours and others – but it also aches for those people who don’t know enough to appreciate how a small amount of effort on their part would make such a big difference to you.

    Are we really so wrapped up in our own lives that even taking a moment to consider your difficulties is beyond reach? It is true that is someone has never known that need for help, it is difficult to appreciate. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done and I wish more people would make a little effort where fellow man (and woman!) is concerned.

    I wish I had been there – I would have moved you into my place! At the very least someone could have brought round a stew or pie once a week. When I was incapacitated by anxiety and nervous exhaustion a few years ago, I nearly drowned in cottage pies – something for which I am eternally grateful!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Ritu says:

    Wow Madelyn! That is quite an experience you went through!

    Liked by 1 person

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