Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fear: I'm Not Having It Anymore

Some days back, I posted in my 10 Cose di Me that I had come home from work one Friday evening when my husband was out of town and caught someone in my house. That was a few years ago, but I still remember it very well.

When I get home in the evenings, I always pull my car into the garage, close the garage door behind me, and enter the house through a door leading in from the garage. At the time, we had two dogs. They could hear the garage door go up and were always waiting, tails wagging, just inside the door for me. When I came in that day, the dogs weren't right there, although that didn't dawn on me right away. I'd set my things down on the dining room table and turned to walk towards the kitchen, when I caught some movement near the front door out of the corner of my eye.

It's funny how fast things happen. I was immediately struck with terror, and then just a fraction of a second later, I was relieved because I knew who the person was. It was our neighbor's son, about 19 or 20 years old at the time. His parents were out of town too and he was taking care of their house for them. He was nervous; he was maybe even more scared than I was. He stammered and gave me some story, a very shaky story, about leaving his phone in the house when he'd been over earlier in the afternoon visiting with my daughter, who had since left to spend the night at a friend's house. He had come back to look for it. He apologized and made his way out the door.

I just stood there for a minute, my mind racing, trying to sort everything out. How had he gotten in? He had obviously been back near the bedrooms; what had he been doing? Of course the dogs weren't barking - he knew their names, and if he'd really been over earlier in the afternoon, then he was no stranger to them either. Then there was a knock at the door and it was him again. Apparently, he had not had his phone in his hand when he'd left the first time. I couldn't tell you; I had not been paying that much attention. He said he thought he remembered now where it was, he thought he'd left it in the bathroom. He went to the bathroom to retrieve it, and he left again, still very nervous and a little panicked. I locked the door behind him.

And then I started getting mad. At myself.

When I first realized that someone was in the house, but then realized that I knew who it was, it was almost like it was a relief, and I'd let my guard down. I even said, "Oh, it's you." Which translated to, "Oh, it's you. Well, then I guess it's okay. Oh, and you forgot something the first time? Well come on in again." WTF? I know better than that! He still had no business being in my house. I should have said, yelled, "WTF are you doing in my house? You left your phone? Bullshit! Get TF out of my house NOW!" But, like I said, things happened very quickly, and that's not what I did.

I called the police, my hubby talked to his dad when they all got home, and the matter was handled. But I still saw him around, and he made me very uncomfortable. I'm not sure I was afraid of him, but I avoided him.

Sometimes if we were outside chatting with his parents, he'd show up and hang out, with what I swear was a smirk on his face, because he knew that it bugged me. If I was out in my backyard, and saw him out in his parents' yard, I'd immediately go into the house. If I wanted to go out on to the patio, I'd look out the back door first and if he was around, I'd stay inside. I had given him control.

Finally something clicked and I got mad again. Why was I acting like I was afraid of him? He should be embarrassed, and he should be afraid of me! And that was the end of that.

I realized then, too, that I'd done the same thing with a couple people at work. A couple of people made me uncomfortable, and if I saw them coming towards me down a hallway, I'd turn and go another way, or do whatever I needed to do to avoid them.

Not anymore. I look people in the eye and I'm not intimidated. Sometimes I even want to say, "Bring it!" It's really kind of liberating! So there's one more "cose di me."


  1. That's some story! Fear can be gripping, congratulations on taking back control. You said you called the police - did they do anything? Looking people in the eye is perfect, it lets them know you aren't someone they can mess with. My philosophy is that life is too short to go around avoiding situations. You are going to have to face them sooner or late, might as well make it sooner and get your peace back.

  2. Heavens, Janet...what a fright! You were wise to call the police. Anything happen with that? I admire your bravery in this situation. Facing fear head-on, in the eyes, is a good way to kill it. Well done, Janet...You give us girl power! :o)

  3. I've always found it interesting that we as women tend to minimize danger when we are faced with threats. We think, "Oh, I know him; surely he means no harm" because we don't want to believe bad things can happen to us. I'm glad you were OK. I would have completely freaked out! And would still be freaking. Constantly.

  4. Thank you for sharing this story!
    I am so glad you have grown with this experience and you know I have too!
    And I support you on this, I do the same as you do, I look at people's eyes and that's it I feel my confidence and more important I feel whole again.
    Soul hugs!
    Thank you again!

  5. I had two men try to get into my house one night when I was working late. It was before I was married so I lived alone and around the same time I would have normally come home from work. Fortunately, I was late. My neighbor caught them and ran them off. The next night I sat inside the front window with my dog who could be vicious towards strangers and a baseball bat. The guy actually drove by again very slowly and began to park in front of the house. I flipped the flood lights on and began to panic. Then I got mad. I found out who he was via his car to discover he was a neighbor from up the road. Whenever I felt angry that he tried to make me his victim I would take the dog for a walk right in front of his house. If he was out I would walk very slowly and let the dog bark and carry on as if she were going to kill him. Then as soon as we passed I would pull her leash and return her to appropriate behavior. It was empowering to make him scared, not that I'm really that sort of person. Good for you. We have to keep the balance of good when someone invades our nice comfy lives.

  6. Thanks for the story. Can't imagine someone feeling entitled to come into your home without an invitation. As for meeting people I find intimidating, not only do I look them in the eye, I also suck my gut in and chest out and walk as tall as my 5 ft.1 will allow.

  7. Wow, frightening story! Thanks for stopping by my blog and fro your kind words!

  8. Cripes! What a crazy story.But good for you for saying "no" to the fear.

    Personally, I think the next time you see him and he smirks at you, you should remind him that the police have his name on record. Alternatively, the next time he smirks at you, just smirk right back at him, because YOU know that the police have his name on record! This kid needs a wakeup call.


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