Grabbing Life by the Throat

Grabbing Life by the Throat in Venice
| 5 Minute Read |

There’s something really quite exciting about visiting a new city. Having spent years on end going to Disney again and again on family holidays, you can imagine my excitement last October going to Venice, with my daughter Iona, a city neither of us had been to before. Thanks to our very kind friend Gianpaolo and his family, we were going to their apartment for the half-term break.

The Venice trip was significant in so many ways, mainly because it came on the back of a particularly challenging time for Iona and I. We were finally finding our feet, which felt like an exciting new chapter. This trip together was a significant page turn for us – just not in the way we expected!

We arrived in Venice late in the evening. We didn’t want to be navigating our way to the apartment in the dark, mainly as it was in the very heart of Venice, where the only taxies were (of course) by water, so we spent that first night in an airport hotel.

The next morning the weather was beautiful and the city wasn’t too busy, so we were so excited as we pulled our suitcases over bridges and down alleys. Then, just as I was working my way down another set of stairs on yet another bridge, Iona screamed. Thanks to her heightened senses and vantage point from the bottom of the stairs, she’d spotted a pickpocket taking my wallet out of my rucksack and immediately alerted me.

What I did next was driven by instinct, and let me emphasise it is NOT what would be advised from a safety perspective. It was purely my visceral reaction in the heat of the moment. I recall the strangest sensation coming over me – everything seemed clearer and slower – I’d never experienced this before. I knew what fear and adrenalin felt like, but this was different. This reaction was primal – my daughter was in danger, and I went into lioness mode. I spun around and was now toe-to-toe with the would-be pickpocket. I immediately started yelling at the top of my lungs “Thief, thief, police, help”. He was trying to protest that he’d done nothing, but I could hear Iona’s urgent cries “He’s got your wallet mum, it’s him, it’s him, I saw him take it”.

Next thing I knew, as he tried to move away, I’d grabbed the bugger by the jacket at his throat, “Oh no you f@cking don’t!” came blurting out of me, in a voice drawn from some part of my soul I’d never tapped into before. He didn’t move – though his friend took off like a bat out of hell. I snatched my wallet back and checked everything else was in my bag, all the while continuing to yell for assistance (BTW not one of the passing tourists stopped to help – or did they think it was a bloody street art performance?!). Thankfully, nothing else had been taken from my bag, so I released my vice-like grip and shoved him away with a final “F@ck off”.

We had been very, very lucky, and even now I try not to think too deeply about what might have happened if he’d had a weapon. Seriously, not an advisable approach!

At the bottom of the bridge, my poor daughter was crying hysterically. This truly was her worst nightmare. We hadn’t even got to the apartment yet, and our trip already had a horrible incident overshadowing it. We gathered ourselves together and continued on, I just wanted to get to our apartment safely and then work out what to do next.

The next hour was pretty hellish – I couldn’t find the apartment, Iona was petrified and just wanted to head straight back to the airport, but thank goodness we eventually stopped for a coffee and calmed ourselves down a little. The wonderful cafe owner was so lovely and apologised for our experience – apparently an ongoing issue in the city (which is true of almost all cruise ports). With my head still spinning and some clear directions, I was elated to finally find the apartment and get into our home for the week.

After catching our breath, we ventured back out – hoping the beauty of Venice would soothe our troubles. Neither of us felt particularly happy being out-and-about that afternoon, so we took some food and a deck of cards back to the apartment. We didn’t actually chat much that evening as I think both of us were trying to process our thoughts.

What you are truly capable of lies on the other side of fear

Later, when we were tucked up in bed, I could feel Iona was shaking and thought the wee soul was crying, then a laugh bubbled out of her… “Oh my God, Mum, that guy’s face today – he was absolutely terrified of you!”. Then we both started laughing (albeit slightly hysterically). Neither of us thought I would have that kind of badass in me. Both of us were shocked at my strength in the moment. Who knew?

I would have much preferred the experience hadn’t happened – as it did sadly colour our week and we ended up cutting our trip short, but the experience was a gift – it revealed an inner strength we’d never seen before.

The period following our Venice trip was amongst the hardest months of Iona’s life, it seemed that one thing after another came at her, and eventually, it knocked her over. Now, having seen the fierce side of me, it helped us grab life’s challenges by the throat, together!

From Iona’s perspective, it’s done her no harm knowing her mum has a genuine streak of badass in her which can be called upon when needed.

Is there anything in your life right now you might want to bring a bit of badass to? A situation that might help to “grab by the throat”?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

Stay safe – and don’t underestimate your inner strength.

2 replies
  1. Adrienne says:

    Oh Jean, I remember when you told me this story! We laughed and laughed (even though the whole situation isn’t the slightest bit funny!)

    • Jean MacAskill says:

      Adrienne, Iona and I were just talking about that – I could tell Jenna saw Aunty Jean in a whole new light that evening 🙂


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