Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Be careful what you ask the Universe

Hey, Sharni again - thought I'd share a story I wrote a little while ago regarding a terrifying experience I had - wonder if anyone else has experienced anything like this - and how did they react? I laughed -- out of sheer terror ....
I was going to add a picture here to accompany this - but couldn't find one appropriate...

........Scary Moments...

About three years ago I was down on the ground in the foetal position praying for my life.

Three armed bandits equipped with a gun, a machete and a sledge hammer were standing over some twenty of us drinking in the beer garden at an upmarket hotel in Double Bay in Sydney.

A few seconds earlier we'd heard them shouting “Get down on the F****** ground ” , enforcing the command with a gunshot.

How had I ended up in this mess?

Only three days earlier I left the one horse town I was living in for a brief return to Sydney Town where I had been working and living for several years.

As I packed my overnight bag I was wondering whether this trip might make me feel that I should shut up shop in my quiet little town and return to big-city action.

My first two days were filled with lunches, theatre, clubbing and other twenty-something amusements so on Sunday night after a frantic day of shopping my best Sydney buddy Carly and I retreated to her Rose Bay home to chill out in front of the television.

Time somehow disappeared and at 10.30pm we were still rolled up in our blankets on the couch.

At that point we turned to each other and laughed “Are we grandmas? What are we doing at home, we don’t have to work tomorrow! Lets get amongst it! ”

So after tossing the dice over several likely establishments, as fate would have it we decided on the Sheafe in Double Bay and took a cab to New South Head Road.

At this time of night the hotel is normally overflowing with swanky party people, but we noticed it was oddly quiet.

Perhaps the Universe was trying to warn us?

We ordered some vinos and made our way out to the beer garden to have a relaxing drink with a dozen or so other patrons , some of whom appeared to have been there all day.

Suddenly the quiet buzz of the garden was broken by the most horrific shouting.

My first thought was that it was just a drunken fool – but I turned around to see a vision that hasn't left me yet : three masked men – one yelling “ Get down on the ground” .

At first everyone thought it was just bad street theatre and continued drinking.

“This is not a f---- joke” the bandit yelled and fired a gun to ensure we took him seriously.

Carly and I dropped to the ground clutching each other's hands and falling into the foetal position.

I've watched scenes like this on television, but my real-life reaction was a little less predictable.

Certainly tears were rolling down my face but, probably out of complete hysteria, Carly and I were both
laughing uncontrollably .

At the same time I was thinking how I still had stuff I wanted to do with my life , how much my body was going to suffer when they shot or stabbed me and and, oh God, how I didn’t want to die.

I was thinking of the Columbine Massacre (this was the day before the Virginia Tech one) and suddenly felt empathy with those victims.

At this point I was not seeing this was as a pub robbery – if something went wrong I knew I could be involved in a massacre.

My life and those important to me flashed before my eyes.

I told Carly I loved her and then started praying for my life, all the time in some sort of hysterics.

The sheer terror had us reacting in the strangest ways.. “If they catch us laughing, pretend we are crying” Carly hissed at me.

My heart was racing, my mind was thinking a million things at once.

I could hear the guy lying on the floor next to me calling the police on his mobile, and I was worried that the bandits would include us in their reprisal if they heard him.

If you asked me how long we were down there I couldn’t tell you, but after what seemed years Carly said to me “It’s Ok you can get up now” .She was certainly the calm one of us in this scenario; I was still frozen on the ground.

“How do you know?” I asked as I warily popped my head up.

Then I realised that people were standing once again and that the police and paramedics had arrived.

We learnt later that the bandits had put a knife to the barman’s throat and forced the hand-over of the contents of the safe.

The three had escaped through a getaway car stationed out the back of the beer garden.

Never in my life had I needed a reviving a drink so much.

Talk about sneaking back into Sydney for a quiet holiday!

The question I had put to the Universe: “Should I return to Sydney?” was answered.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have packed so much emotion into that question: a little symbolic sign would have sufficed.


Marilyn said...

I wish I could say I didn't know what you experienced. I used to joke that death has kissed me on the cheeks, on the forehead, and waits to kiss my mouth. So I do know, and I also looked for a reason why I have been spared...the simple thing that I took from all of my encounters with death is to make it count! The 'it' of realizing no do-overs...a one way ticket to live.

When I was 14, a young man held a hunting knife to my throat...I was dragged into an alley, and he was going to rape and kill me. This was fact. I made a decision that day. I decided to fight for my life and not be a victim. I decided that I might die, but I would have at least fought as hard as I could and not give in. So that is what I did. Granted, a knife is not a gun. I don't it would have mattered to me...

I escaped his grasp and he was possessed with the fear of being caught...he ran away like a little girl...and I somehow realized that I wasn't a little girl anymore.

I didn't submit to a fate...I chose my fate.

And you dear woman, choose your fate...not through signs...but by your free will.

Eco Yogini said...

Wow. Thank you very much for sharing such an intimate and terrifying part of your life.
I have no idea what it must have been like- I've never experienced anything like it.

What an answer though.

Many Blessings

Katherine Jenkins said...

Sharni...I am sad that I can say I relate. I had a similar experience in the USA with my mother in Philadelpia, the city of Brotherly Love is what they call it. No love that day. Four masked men with sawed off shotguns held guns to our heads while they robbed us. We were in front of a Youth Hostel waiting for it to open. All I remember is that everything went to slow motion. A leaf slowly fell from a tree and touched the ground. I remember my mothers face all twisted and crying. I also remember, oddly, letting go...I guess I was preparing for death...I think that sparked a big change in me. So much love and gratitude came out after that. Yes, Sharni, you have sooooo many wonderful things still to do here...that's why you are here. You are such a ball of light. I think these kind of experience stay with us and make us stronger..make us want to live fully and not waste any time. Lots of love, Kathy

Lily Robinson said...

What a frightening ordeal! Yes, sometimes we do get those answers. I was taught to never pray for patience...

Sharnanigans said...

scary to think that 2 of the 4 commenters here have experienced something equally and moreso terrifying. These scary ordeals do give us perspective on what is important - definitely. xx

Marilyn said...

There is a footnote...a decision I had made.
The attack happened by my high school. Though I reported the incident to the police, I chose not to talk to talk about it at school. At the time, I felt it was important to not have a climate of fear and I came up with a self depreciating story to explain my injuries, which amounted to cut palms and a small cut on my face where the tip of the blade was pressed into my skin.

I didn't want any attention drawn to the attack, or to me. It was a few weeks later when I saw a girl with suspicious marks, a blackened eye and eyes that would only look downward...that I realized that I may have made a mistake.

I don't know if telling anyone would have made a difference...but looking at that girl made me realize; it may have.

That was the moment that changed me.

Lille Diane said...

"All I remember is that everything went to slow motion. A leaf slowly fell from a tree and touched the ground. I remember my mothers face all twisted and crying. I also remember, oddly, letting go...I guess I was preparing for death...I think that sparked a big change in me."

My oddly letting go and preparing for death came in a van after it crashed over a guard rail on a bridge in the mountains of Maryland. There was a moment the van teetered on what looked like an never ending crevice to the center of the earth. I never once screamed. Those few seconds seemed like eternity. A part of me is still on that slope.

This is not my only brush with death. I've had many. But this one, the auto accident, was the one that pulled the scab off of many deep seated fears of having no control over so many things in life. I'm not afraid of dying and I'm working to learn not to be afraid of what I cannot control, and learning to accept what I can. PTSD is a tricky, wily character that still holds a gun to my head.

I just started painting a self portrait of me on that mountain. I hope my paint brush finds the way to color my emotions in a wave of gratitude, without the fear. Thank you for posting a story that opened up so many responses, and similar stories, of near death experiences. Knowing I'm not alone is oddly comforting. Thank you all. Thank you, Kathy. Your words opened up a deep well of tears inside me. I needed to let some pressure off and let them flow. I think I'll go paint now.

Heather Conroy said...

I have a great interest in the stories people tell themselves about their own traumatic experiences. How you frame it matters, but underneath there is always a tightly closed safety deposit box (or deep well) of emotions that needs to be unlocked, or drawn to the surface eventually.
I wish you all peace and healing and I'm moved by your stories.