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  • Walking up to the counter, I braced myself, swallowed air, and painted a smile on my face.

    "Hi," I said softly. "I need to check out, but I think my library card was stolen along with my wallet and purse."

    "When did this happen?"

    "Back in December?"

    "And you didn't report it?" the librarian asked.

    "The library card or the purse? The police were involved. I was assaulted and robbed."

    Her expression softened.

    "Just when I think I am done, when I think that I have cancelled and replaced everything that I need to do, something else pops up, like my library card."

    "But you are ok?"

    I smiled and said, "I'm getting there."

    I had to change the locks on my condo and the ignition code for my Jeep. I needed a new drivers license and house keys. A mailbox key. Insurance, bank, and credit cards. I needed (or wanted) a new phone, iPod, and camera, a new purse, a new laptop bag, and PIV card for the office. I needed to learn how to use new technology and set up apps, media, and accounts. I needed to work with security at my office on the stolen (federal) equipment, get a new laptop, and work with IT to reinstall software, printers, and network paths. I needed to rebuild the spreadsheet tracking my expenses, my checkbook. I lost my pill case, medication, and a paper prescription. I lost my peace of mind.

    Through it all, I worked. I volunteered. I walked longer and longer distances trying to get ready for a 50-mile charity walk even with my foot in a cast. I wrote. I took pictures. My MS flared under the change in medication as I fought to avoid contracting HIV or an STI or maybe just because of the stress of it all.

    Everything took time. So much time. Filling out paperwork for the insurance company, waiting for the locksmith, going to the car dealership, making call after call after call. I didn't have instructions to follow. I didn't have an itemized list of the contents of my purse, replacement cost, priority, or the relevant points of contact with email addresses, phone numbers, or URLs. I had to figure it all out for myself and do some of the things, like locks, credit cards, and phone, really fast.

    I spent a month in a cast. I spent a month in PT and spent time every night practicing "toe yoga" and heel lifts. Standing on one foot. Standing on one foot with my eyes closed. I started seeing a therapist and spent time every night meditating. I spent time assuring people that I was ok.

    And I was. Mostly. My ankle hurt. My beliefs had been shaken, and I was scared. I was tired. I was overwhelmed by the never-ending pile of work that it heaped on me when I need the time and space to recover.

    More than anything, though, I wanted it to end. I was over the assault and robbery. The rape kit. The photos. The investigation. The fear. The cost and effort of replacing things. The jarring reminder when credit card payments failed and I needed to update stored credit card numbers. I wanted to stop talking about it. I wanted to stop thinking about it. I was over it, and I had nothing more to give.

    "I'm getting there," I repeated and checked out the books I needed for volunteering.

    I used my new drivers license to get a new library card, put the books in my new tote bag, tucked the new card in my new wallet inside my new purse, and attached the smaller version to the new ring that held my new Jeep, house, mail, and condo building keys, and I walked (not limped) out into the sunshine.

    I am getting there.
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