Posted by: GeekHiker | April 25, 2013

Dublin, Ireland – Aftermath

[Continued from this post.]

Like the assault, the next couple of days that followed are kind of a blur of memories.

The start of the day after mostly involved going back to the Garda station to give my statement, a long process where the officer hand-wrote everything down during a long question-and-answer session.  After I finished rehashing the previous day’s events, I headed out with Irish A and Irish K, walking around a few places in Temple Bar.

It was nice to have the company

Since both were busy the following day, I walked from my hostel to the Guinness Storehouse.  This was more of a personal challenge, just to see if I could force myself out of the hostel, and I was jumpy the whole time.  Whether it was a little kid or a lady in her eighties, I tended to see just about any passing stranger as a potential threat and kept having to remind myself that they weren’t.

It was strange being at the Guinness Storehouse.  I felt more like observer than participant walking through the brewery, watching the relaxed tourists reading displays or sipping on the sample beer included in the ticket price.  Even worse was walking through the gift shop, seeing travelers picking up any manner of kitschy souvenirs labeled with the Guinness logo.  It was as though I was watching the whole thing on TV: seeing it happen, but not really there myself.  When I stood at the top of the building at the Gravity Bar, sipping my pint, I looked out over the city and felt nothing.

Well, not quite nothing.  I missed my friends back home.  I missed the companionship I’d had traveling in New Zealand.  I missed 1Cent.

At least I can say that the rumor is true: Guinness (which I’ve never been a huge fan of, being more of a pale ale man myself) really does taste better at the brewery.

I didn’t take the camera with me those two days.  It stayed in my backpack or in the locker under my hostel bunk.  After doing everything I could to save it, and the few days worth of pictures I hadn’t yet had a chance to back up, I didn’t want to touch it.  I didn’t want to have anything to do with the camera, even after having shot thousands of pictures on it.

Other than a cursory inspection when I returned to California, it was months before I picked it up again.

* * *

[Interesting side-note: the picture of the Dublin street in the first post of this story was not, as it turns out, the last picture taken on my trip.  The very last picture was taken on my cell phone: Irish A took one of me in the ambulance with a bandage wrapped around my head, my jacket and shirt stained with blood.

But I figure no one really wants to see that.

I will tell you this, though: somehow, dazed as I was, I still managed a smile.]

* * *

The following morning I packed my bags, took a bus to the airport, and boarded a plane to get the fuck out of Ireland.

* * *

There were lingering effects.

The wounds took about a month to heal.  It was weeks before I could wash my hair, because I had to wait for the wound to heal properly and for the staples to be removed.  Due to the kick in the side my my head, the area around the right side of my jaw had swelled so that I couldn’t close it properly.  The teeth wouldn’t line up, like something out of a Warner Brothers cartoon where Daffy Duck has his bill knocked at an angle.  It would be days before I could chew properly again.

For months after I came back I couldn’t walk around in public without feeling some sense of unease.  I was staying for a couple of months with my Parents, who live in an incredibly safe part of town, but I still viewed everyone I passed on the street as a potential threat, and anyone walking behind me, out of my sight, doubly so.  Walking around, I always tended to think of what I had on me that I could use as a weapon.  My old, trusty metal water bottle could be used to hit someone, I figured, and I carried it often.  Sometimes, when I saw someone who looked particularly untrustworthy, I would finger the pocketknife in my pocket.

Of course, none of them were really a threat.  Months later, that instinct has mostly passed.  Mostly.  Every so often, such as when I was invited to drinks in an older (but still very safe) part of town a few weeks ago, my defensive instincts kick up again.

* * *

As for Dublin and Ireland?  Well…

I don’t blame the Irish.  Bad eggs exist wherever you go.  Moreover, everyone, from the Garda to the hospital staff to the hostel staff to strangers at businesses, everyone who I met after the incident was, without fail, kind and sympathetic.  Everyone was also shocked that the assault happened in Merrion Square, so at least I knew my decision-making wasn’t faulty.

Irish A and Irish K are still friends on FB, given that it was a bonding experience to say the least.

I don’t blame Ireland.  Like I said, bad eggs everywhere.

Yet I would by lying if I said I wanted to go back to Ireland.  Ever.

I’ll be the first to admit: that’s totally unfair.  It’s unfair to Ireland.  It’s unfair to the Irish people.

But, while I can rationally, intellectually tell myself that it could have happened to anyone, anywhere, the fact is: it happened to me, and it happened in that location.  So the emotional, illogical side of my brain ties that location, and that country, directly to an extremely bad memory.  It’s not by any means fair or right or just, but that’s the way it is.

Maybe that’ll change in the future.  Maybe it won’t.  I have no idea.  What I do know is that there’s no way I’d pay money to go back.  In fact, the only way I would go back would be to testify in the court case (still, I suppose, a possibility) in which case the court would pay the costs.  I doubt it will happen, though I can’t help but think of the interesting conversation at customs: “What’s the purpose for your visit to Ireland?” “Well, lemme tell ya…”

Someone suggested that Irish Tourism should bring me back, all expenses paid, so I won’t go around telling everyone what a terrible place Ireland is.  I laughed at the idea, but maybe I’d consider it.

But only if they paid for 1Cent’s ticket from Australia, too.

* * *

Funny side note: I made the papers.  Page 2.

I bought a copy and brought it home.

Definitely not the souvenir I was expecting.

* * *

I lost time when I came back.

I didn’t realize it until sometime in December, but a low-level depression had settled over me.

I was doing everything right, or so I thought: moving out of my parent’s place, starting the job and career search, going down to see my friends in San Francisco.  It wasn’t until December, talking with a friend on the phone who was telling me about the lack of motivation he’d been feeling of late, that I hung up and realized that I felt the same way.  I’d come back from my travels, needing to get back into life, back to work, all of that.  But even though I was going through the motions, the motivation and energy weren’t there, and the lack of results has been tangible.

The energy, the excitement, the motivation… everything that I was feeling as I neared the end of my travels was gone.  Although the depression is abating (yes, once I realized it was there, I headed off to counseling post-haste), what I felt in London hasn’t come back.

I’m angry about that.  Yet I have no idea how to go back to where I was before.

Having the shit beat out of you isn’t exactly a memory one can forget.

* * *

The thing that strikes me writing this now is that what happened doesn’t affect me in obvious ways.  There’s no lasting physical damage, other than a bad-ass scar on my head should I shave my hair off one day.  I don’t lose sleep at night, don’t have nightmares.  I can walk out in public and, unless somebody really shifty is walking by, don’t feel very defensive while doing it.

Mentally, the depression, which I’m sure was tied to a lot of things (the assault, the end of the trip, dealing with a long-distance relationship), is slowly working its way out of my system.

The biggest lasting effect so far is the lack of motivation.  Certainly 1Cent’s visit helped with that, and I’ve hit the job market with far more gusto than before.  But I still don’t feel the way I did in London.  The confidence I had there seems to have been beaten out of me in Dublin and, even though I can recognize that fact, I can’t seem to turn the switch back on.  So the motivation I had in London languishes, the ideas go nowhere, the pictures and notes from my travels remain untouched on the computer.

They say travel changes you, but I don’t know if I’ve felt it yet.  I worry that what happened in Dublin somehow, on some subconscious level, overrides everything else.  I don’t want it to.  I’m trying not to let it.  But I don’t know how much control one has over that sort of thing.  I have often wished in the time since that, if the assault was destined to happen, that it had happened at the beginning of my travels rather than the end.  I imagine that I might have been better able to put the whole thing in its place had I continued traveling, seeing and experiencing new things for several months rather than returning to the familiarity of home.

It’s possible, as I’ve theorized before, that writing all of this down might open the floodgates.  Might make me eager to go back and start writing about the travels.  As I write tonight, that’s not the case.  My mind is still more worried about getting a job.  (Seriously, if you, gentle reader, have any leads…)

I can say this: as I walk by the large box filled with stuff that I picked up during my travels, I keep thinking more and more about delving into it.  Maybe, now that everything about Dublin is online for all the world to see, maybe now that urge will become stronger.

Only time will tell.

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Responses

  1. Awww. *hugs* 😦 Sounds like you may be suffering from a mix of PTSD and “After Travel + job hunting + LDR Blues”! I know the word PTSD has been thrown around a lot, and maybe rightly so, because only people that have suffered know what it’s like, and violent crime is one of the biggest causes. There is no shame in admitting how you feel. I applaud your efforts in seeking counseling, and hope you will continue with some kind of therapy, maybe even a support group? As for the Blues, it happens to everyone, even though people may not talk about it openly! Hang in there, time heals, even if it doesn’t seem so at this moment…

    • Thank you for the kind thoughts.

      It’s more of the latter parts of your mix, I think. The therapist and I discussed PTSD, but since I’m not losing sleep and am able to function generally, I don’t have PTSD. Which is fine by me, since I think PTSD is specific to those who’ve experienced it (such as veterans), and I hate seeing the term being thrown around so generally for every traumatic event these days.

      Frankly, I think at this point finding some kind of work will be the biggest help. At least once I have that, I can start planning other things…

  2. I normally call it re-entry blues. It the compartmentalization of normal life that is done while on an adventure and the return to normal once your adventure is done. Even on short overnight trips, I get a variation of the feeling. So much excitement leads up to the experience that, once it’s over, you have to find something new to look forward to. Therefore, much of my life is creating experiences to look forward to. It’s working good so far.

    • Hey, man, long time! I fully agree with you. Unfortunately, until I nail down a bit of income, it’s rather tough to plan for anything at the moment. I promise, the moment I have something, I’ll start planning again…

      • FYI, I read every post!

  3. I think it’s expected that you’re going to have motivation issues. Your life has been one major transition for the past year, and it’s still in transition. Change is awesome, exciting, and exhausting. Do what you can and have to do now, and time will take care of the rest.

    • Yeah… I just wish I could’a stopped the change in London…

  4. I would have said PTSD as well but what do I know. I experienced the same type of blues after i got back from my Camino/Route 66 Summer. It’s been hard to match how I felt on that trip ever since. I think that’s why I’ve been making plans – Like what 100peaks said “…much of my life is creating experiences to look forward to.” While I understand some of your post-adventure blues, I know I can’t touch how you feel about your job hunt and the aftermath of your mugging. I just hope you can work things out.

    I have to disagree with you on one thing. Having the assault at the beginning of your trip would not have been a good thing. I think you would have caught the first plane home and would have missed out on all the good things you experienced (including 1Cent). Now you have all the good to balance some of the assault.

    Travel of this type will change you. It just takes time. One day you’ll look back and realize just how you have grown since the experience. Your task now is to ensure it is the good of the trip that changes you and not the bad. I have faith in you my friend.

    • Well, I think we’re gonna have to agree to disagree on the when of the assault. I say that mostly because of reading someone else’s experience, where they had a trauma happen at the beginning of their trip. Like me, though, they had the first several airline tickets purchased, so going home wasn’t an option, and the traveling gave them the time and space to work through things. I DID come right home, which allowed me time to brood and to stress about the less-fun things in life, like working again. So, on balance, I think continuing to travel would have been a far better option. But that’s an alternative universe.

      In terms of change, I don’t think you have a choice: both the good AND the bad change you, don’t they?

      • You always have a choice. We just don’t always acknowledge it.

  5. It’s weird because I found myself seeing strange upsides to this terrible situation as I was reading. It completely blows to have to learn lessons like this, but I would guess that you’ll listen to your intuition a lot more closely next time someone “fishy” comes into view. And in a way, that’s a huge gift. It could save your life someday. I also think you had an opportunity to see some of the best of the Irish people – which many travelers would never have a chance to see. It’s like you experienced both extremes. As horrifying as it is that you had to endure being attacked, it’s sort of neat that you got to see the really loving side of the people there who helped you afterwards.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Gavin Debecker, but he’s a personal security expert and he wrote a book called “The Gift of Fear” that’s all about trusting your instincts in dangerous situations. Humans are the only animals who do not run away when we get that prickly sense of an impending threat. Because we want to be “nice.” That book might be a cool read for you. It might help you tune in and trust yourself more – and possibly even help with the healing from this situation.

    • I’ve heard of him, though I’m not sure how it applies in this situation. The hard part is, via the media, we’ve been taught over the past few decades to be afraid of everything and everyone. The hard part is trying to find the balance between knowing when your instincts are right, and when it’s just the irrational fears kicking in.

  6. […] been a couple of weeks since the last “deep” post, wherein I wrapped up my little tale of Dublin.  Not a whole lot has happened in the intervening […]


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