Almost nine months ago my apartment almost was invaded. The incident was terrifying, and despite not being an official break-in, has left me with long term side effects. After shock? I refuse to say PTSD, but something in that ballpark. I mean, I bought a bat. I sleep with it beside my bed. I wake up in the middle of the night and I have to go check that doors are locked before I can go back to sleep. I had a panic attack in my shower one day in August because I thought someone was in my apartment, only to realize later on that I could just hear the guy who lived above me. I was just getting used to the new noises of a new apartment.
I hate sounds. I hate houses creaking and the wind that rustles. I don’t know what’s happening, but I think maybe wind moves the tree branches and the tree branches scratch the roof over my new room. Some night I lay in bed and I repeat to myself a thousand times that It’s the wind. It’s tree branches. But then also part of me says that it’s someone out there (on the roof?) and I need to be awake just in case.
This morning, as I left for work (spoiler, I’m really writing this on Monday), I locked the front door after I left. Mr. Ward had left it unlocked from taking the dog out. He was awake and sitting at the computer. I thought, “Well, if he doesn’t like me locking him in he’ll have to unlock the door and come find me. You know who’ll have trouble finding him? Murderers and thieves. You’re welcome.” I completely go into this irrational zone that’s barely explainable. I thought this was the worst though.
I got subpoenaed on Saturday night. I have to go into court in the next week because the attempted break-in is going to trial, like with an actual jury. I have this number I have to call to see if the case gets thrown out before the court date. I have to show up thirty minutes early. I may or may not have to testify, no one seems to know. I have never been angrier or more terrified in my life. That’s a bit of a lie. It’s more like I’m angry and sad in new ways that I never thought would happen to me and make me question how my life has turned out. Also, I don’t even know if I’m allowed to share this. No one has told me the rules.
Everyone just says it’ll be fine. It’ll be okay. Don’t worry. Let’s Google the guy so you know what to expect.
ARRRRGH. No! Please fucking stop.
Don’t worry? Did those words actually come out of someone’s mouth directed at me with the intent of making me feel better? Do you even know me? I have RAGING anxiety. It’s the one thing I do best with any sort of consistency. If worrying was an Olympic sport, I’d be Michael Phelps. Yes! Of course, I’m going to be worried, even if it will be fine because right now there’s a 50/50 chance it won’t be fine.
Up until the stalk session I was forced to have, I’d never seen this guy’s face. I have amazingly vivid dreams and they can go either way, good or bad, which is fantastic when they’re good, but horrifying when they’re bad. I really don’t want that face haunting my dreams. I don’t want to have to look him in the eyes and worry if he’s plotting my death.
But it’s not just that. Although, facing him is really scary. I was told that this wasn’t his first time breaking into a place. I now live with the knowledge that it could have been so much worse than the story they originally gave me in which they were in a fight with my neighbor and got the wrong window. Now, maybe I was just targeted. Awesome. Might never live on my own ever. At all.
What was I saying? Oh, yes. It’s not all about him. It’s the fact that I’m going to be neurotic and get no sleep the night before. I’m going to be scared I won’t wake up to my alarm. What if traffic is terrible and I’m late. Do I have to dress up? Should I dress up and if anyone says anything I’ll just lie and say I’m going to work afterwards? Will it get done in time for me to go to work afterwards? Is this like Lutherans in church—am I supposed to sit in the back? Do I sit in the front? Is it like a wedding and I need to sit on a certain side depending on whose witness I am. WHOSE WITNESS AM I? How do I get to the courthouse? Once inside, where do I go? Should I look people in the eye? Are there bathroom breaks? Do I have to bring the subpoena paper with me? Do I have to show it to someone? Will there be a non-angry worker to help me? Is it socially acceptable to have someone hold my hand? If called to witness, how to I get to the front? Like, are there signs that say, “this way to the witness box” or little arrows taped to the floor? Do you really swear on the Bible? Can I leave after I testify or do I have to wait out the whole thing?
I know you’re probably wide eyed because you’ve never seen this level of crazy from me before because I–like any self-respecting adult—lie to you constantly about the level of crazy I function at. Plus, it’s so overwhelming and constant, that I shut down. My calm is just really an inability to add anything more to my plate. Because these questions don’t stop. They continue on for hours, and then when I get to the last question, I circle back to the first one and start going through the list again. And you’re probably thinking, “At least it will be better once the trial’s over.” No. I’ll just start worrying about what actually happened, overanalyzing everything to the utmost degree.
Also, I know that once I post this, I’ll get worried calls from my family trying to console me. I think the largely unjust part of everything is that I’ve somehow developed the ability to continue on as though nothing happened or has happened. For the most part, I’ll still go to work. I’ll still laugh and joke. I’ll lock all this up in my head and not take it out until there’s no one around me, and then I’ll fret. Honestly, I can’t even express how sick to my stomach I am, but the moment someone stands in front of me, I’m all smiles and lies. “I’m great. Nothing’s so bad.” It’s like I need someone to grab my shoulders and shake m, saying, “I know you’re lying straight to my face!” But also don’t because I will hate you on a very deep level if you grab me and jostle me.
I’m also stressed because I feel like I should have a stronger faith than this. Shouldn’t I be fearless? I trust God. I know that he is with me. I know that he protects me. My fear is a sign of doubt. I hate that. And I hate that it weakens my ability to witness. How can people look at my fretting and think, “That’s someone who’s saved and cared for by God. Look at her. In the face of trial, she’s so confident in him that she’s unfazed.” I want that, and I’m trying really hard to achieve that. I see how my worry and anxiety tramples that. The only thing I can think of to combat that is to pray, and to ask that you pray for me too.
Please be with me today and especially when I go to court. I am weak, and I am in need of your strength. I am selfish in my worries. Please remind me of your selfless love. Thank you for sending you son to die on the cross for me. Thank you for forgiving me of my weaknesses and sin. Thank you for claiming me as one of your own. Let your love shine through me as a witness to others. Work in me so that this time of trial and hardship and fear may be used for your good and the benefit of your kingdom.
Be with me every day. My anxiety and worry is strong and they have to be fought relentlessly day and night, but you are more powerful than them. Thank you for staying with me every step of the way and picking me up when I fall. Thank you for not giving up on me during the long moments where I’m not walking, but barely crawling. Thank you for loving me as your own and molding me continuously to be the person you designed me to be.
In Your name I pray, amen.