It’s 1:01 AM as I begin this post, and I am jumping at every little noise in my apartment.
The turning on of the air conditioner.
The floor making a nonsensical creek.
The cat meowing outside.
My neighbors coming in and out of their apartments.
Who knew that my apartment made so many pops and creeks?
Every time a gust of wind hits my back I turn around and look suspiciously at the kitchen.
Is there someone in there?
Am I losing my mind?
I’ve lived by myself, and sometimes with roommates, but certainly out of my mother’s house for 8 years at this point. I have lived all alone in a foreign country and on a lake, not to mention in a haunted (so they said) Wesley foundation. I’m a freaking grown up, and have really come to enjoy living alone. I read an article once about how folks that live alone slowly become weirder over time (this was not it, but this can entertain you). Though I have found this to be true, I am certainly a more quirky Erica at home, I relish my alone time in my own space.
But not tonight; tonight I hate it.
A little more than 24 hours ago, a young man broke into my apartment with me in it. He didn’t take anything, and no one was hurt. I think I startled him with my presence, and perhaps with my very stern, “Get out! Get out! Get out!”, so he simply went back out the way he came. I’ve never seen some one go through a window so quickly. Even though there’s a police car parked out back of my apartment, and all the doors are locked and closed, I’m freaking out a little tonight. Last night, my body was full of adrenaline, and exhaustion. After getting everything settled, as long as I could see the kitchen I felt ok. I felt safe, settled even. I mean I didn’t want to go into the kitchen, but I was ok. I eventually dozed off around 3 AM.
Tonight, it’s possible that I am way more freaked out than I was last night. I want to turn on all of the lights, and expose all of the darkness, and at the same time I want to leave all of the darkness unexplored because if something is in there, perhaps it will stay hidden if I don’t see it. I also don’t want to give into my crazy paranoia that someone or something is in my apartment, in my home.
This is supposed to be a place of safety, a place of refuge, but right now it is only causing me stress and anxiety that is somehow coming from my gut. There’s something tight and alert about all of the muscles in my abdomen, and in a way, it almost physically aches. I was at work today, and having a really lovely day, full of visioning and exciting new beginnings as we prepare for our very first South Florida JFON clinic, and I would have little thoughts of what transpired yesterday, or what was yet to come, and really be almost overwhelmed. It’s truly the oddest feeling.
Sitting here now I feel so unsafe or uncertain or silly, I can’t quite decide. I have no idea why this young man decided to come through my window, so I lay here thinking, well if he just wanted my laptop that’s one thing, what if he wanted to hurt someone? What if he now feels jaded about not accomplishing what he set out to do? What if he comes back? What if?? The not knowing is hard, but even harder still is this feeling that it might happen again to fulfill one of the many what if scenarios.
This little thing that happened to me, this new ‘victim of a crime’ status that has been forced upon me, really makes me consider what so many around the world encounter daily. What women around the world face in places like India where this summer report claims 93 women are being raped a day. What it feels like to live in a war zone, perhaps in places like Syria or Eastern Ukraine (even though in the latter a cease fire is taking a bit of hold). What does it feel like to live in a place where violence and justifiable fear abound in everyday life?
I often used to think about what it would be like to have lived through some of the more unglamorous historical moments in the US–civil rights movement, japanese internment camps, mccarthyism, to name a few super random ones. I think about the real danger present in standing up for what was right, and wonder if that in the face of danger and fear of loss of life or liberty, if I would have stood up to ‘the man’. I also think about the real, and very present struggles we face in this nation, and around the world, and I wonder still if I am brave enough to risk everything for a cause, for a person or peoples, for my God.
Ideally, I’d like to think that if it came down to it, I would always stand on the side of rightness–the side of love, and peace, and people. I would like to believe that I wouldn’t let fear dictate that which I would and would not do, the things I would or would not say, the freedoms I would or would not give up. But this taste of fear that this young man has given me, has made me really question how many inches I give fear to play with in my life. Could I live in a different context in which it requires true bravery, when after a small incident, in which no one was hurt, I am so scared? I don’t know.
I do know, that at the very least, these late nights are giving me something to think about. haha I do know that if I let fear win, my soul loses, and if I allow fear to change anything after such a tiny incident, then I have no hope in times of real danger. I pray that the young man didn’t injure himself jumping out the window. I pray that, though they will probably prosecute him if they catch him, it doesn’t ruin his life. But most importantly, I pray that, at the very least, he does not scare anyone else the way that he has scared me, that he will not enter anywhere else where he is not invited. That’s not just my prayer for this young man, but for all those who incite fear in others, for all perpetrators of injustice and violence all over the world. I pray that God would change their hearts, and that they, and each one of us, would find a way to be a more loving and caring presence in the world.