I didn’t realize how terrified I would be, sleeping in a big house by myself. I was fine the first night – the second night I was suddenly so scared. Every sound I heard was alarming. I was convinced that each noise was the sound of someone getting into the house. I was no longer surrounded by the constant noises of Brooklyn (I guess I do miss some things from NY). Normally I can talk myself out of whatever is scaring me, because the things I am generally so scared of are monsters and spirits from movies. I can convince myself they are not there almost as easily as convincing myself they are. For the first time in my life, what’s scaring me is grounded in reality.
Back in October our apartment was broken into – while I was home. Actually, “broken” isn’t the right word because that would mean we had functioning locks on our windows. We didn’t. Still don’t on at least one. But you know, according to the landlord we just don’t know how to lock them. Also, despite the window having been closed, according to the landlord, we can’t just leave it open. Riiiight. So, the burglar/assailant/largely built person was able to just raise the window and enter. I heard a noise from my room, called out thinking my roommate had returned home. When there was no answer, I got up and called out again, to see a large person scrambling out the window. I was terrified. I ran back into my room, locked the door, and called 911. Of course, I had to leave my room, with the operator still on the phone, to let the cops in. Luckily, I did scare the person off. That would have been bad had I not.
Oh, and don’t worry, after some back and forth and victim blaming, our landlord had bars put on windows. Even one she insisted didn’t need it despite being about a foot up from the adjoining roof. Somehow that was not necessary to her? We got the bars.
Anyway, since this incident, I have not been alone. I have slept with more than a nightlight and had nightmares, but never been alone. Having my roommates – even just one – around has been a comfort.
Then here comes early January – take Andrew to the airport for his trip and head back home to a people free house. Cats and a dog yes, but cats aren’t exactly comforting.. And the dog sleeps in her crate at night. None of the bedroom or bathroom doors lock, so I can’t give myself a false sense of security that way either. I lay in bed for four nights so terrified that someone would burst into the place and I had no dog or weapon to help protect me. Not that I would know how to use any number of weapons mind you. And I certainly wouldn’t want any of the animals hurt either. I was convinced someone might already be hiding in the house, waiting to get me. (I have a vivid imagination). My big sister talked me to sleep more than once. I woke in the middle of the night though, and couldn’t sleep again.
Finally on the fourth night I had a breakdown. I felt exhausted from being scared and restless sleep, not to mention little sleep. I could barely function outside of the house, and all the adventures I had planned were being cut short to half days or blurred experiences and groggy drives. The next morning I cried again. I had to reach out to my therapist and take sleeping pills. Sleeping pills can make me groggy too, but at least I would sleep. My therapist recommended EFT/tapping exercises that helped almost immediately. I’m still scared, and my second night with tapping and sleeping pills wasn’t as easy as the first. I was woken by a crying dog needing to go out and then kept awake by rowdy cats. Something (almost comedic) about my head hitting the pillow and my brain flooding with fearful thoughts. I couldn’t and can’t keep them out, but can tap them away.
Here’s the thing, ultimately, that whole robber experience could have been a lot worsse. I am grateful i wasn’t because I don’t know how I would cope. I would be a complete wreck. As it is, I’m scared I can never live alone. I know from childhood experience with molestation that I am not equipped to handle violations on a grand scale. Who the hell is, right? What I mean is that I was molested twice as a child, both incidents were minor compared to things I know could have happened and other people have had happen. Thankfully, nothing further did happen because I’m a bit of a wreck from those incidents. It was the actual violations coupled with responses to them from people who should have protected me that made me so fearful and lonely. So my landlord responding the way she did – didn’t even ask if I was okay and then made the whole thing a headache – brought back a lot of that mistrust and pain.
As a child, I retreated into myself and thought that if I hid from the world than no one would touch me, literally. So this robbery was another violation. Space I occupied was invaded. All I could do was retreat, call police, and wait. I was glad I did not see the person’s face. I wanted them to be gone – to have never been. So here I am, far from where this happened, terrified it will happen again. It’s amazing how being alone just makes it worse – and each violation happened while I was alone. And my biggest fear is to be physically violated again. The worst thing about how I am reacting is that, as in the past, I feel stupid for being scared. As if fault lies in my feelings, and not in the actions of the perpetrators.
What kind of society do we live in where victims feel responsible for things done to them? Seems to me like it’s a society that excuses invasions – be they of the body, mind, space, heart, or any other piece of existence. And I guess we do live in a society built on invasion, don’t we? That’s how “we” got this land anyway.