All I can really say is that in one second I'm minding my own business, and in the next second a door was smashed open, much screaming ensued, and I was being thrown to the floor and handcuffed with no less than 3 loaded guns pointed at my head. I was convinced for at least an hour that I was about to die with a bullet ripping my head wide open because someone had an itchy trigger finger. This home invasion was all over in a matter of a couple hours, and when it was done I was left alone to put the house these invaders had ritualistically destroyed back together. Everything had been thrown about in total chaos, nothing was in its place - which overwhelmed this neat/organization freak. As soon as I was alone in my home again, surrounded by all of this disarray, all I could do was go fetal on the kitchen floor and cry. I thought to myself "What if the kids had been with me when all of this happened?" I felt like a terrified child must feel when there is no safe place to hide. To complicate this situation, D was in Arizona at the time on a business trip and I had to endure all of this without him there to hold me while I cried my eyes out - instead, I had to pretend on the phone that everything was 'normal' so that I didn't worry him. What could he have done for me being on the other side of the country if I had told him what had just happened to me here in Georgia? He wouldn't have been able to rush home, and all he would have done is worried himself sick that I was here and he was there - and forget getting any work done. Not being able to tell him what had happened to me and pretending I was fine every day when we would talk on the phone after it happened almost unraveled me and made me come completely apart - but I managed.
I spent much of that first day in a state of shell-shock, and in the days immediately following I had frequent micro-panic attacks. Before long, I had to retreat to a place where I could be alone and remained there for almost a week in relative isolation. Every sound of footsteps down a hallway was a warning of recurrence, every slow moving car was a set of eyes spying me for a weak moment when my guard was down, every noise to me was the sound of a full magazine being loaded into a gun. I could scarcely manage sleep for longer than 15-20 minutes at a time without the feeling of complete terror and panic welling up in my chest, forcing me awake. For the first time since I was a child I was scared of the dark and of my own shadow. Lack of rest frayed my nerves further and sleep deprivation left me feeling like every nerve in my body was raw and exposed. This wasn't like my normal bout of depression, this felt more like a recall of the emotions I had when I was raped as a child and spent hours in the shower scrubbing myself to get clean on the inside, which no amount of scrubbing could get to.
When something as traumatic as this happens to you that has NOTHING to actually do with you (because, as was in my case you are mistaken for someone else), there are no apologies for it later. Not one of the people who destroys your peace of mind and totally violates the sanctity of your one safe place in the world is sorry for having done it. There are no resolutions for you to make - even for yourself - when neighbors come up to you weeks later like they always had before to make small talk - and wind up asking probing questions and making inappropriate and judgmental commentary at your expense. The ones who had seen everything from the safety of their own windows ran with eyewitness accounts of it to those who missed it. People will talk and draw their own conclusions and no matter what you did or did not do, it is with those tainted, judgmental eyes that you are always going to be seen with from then on.
I believe that the main reason I took this as hard as I did was because I had already spent a lifetime rebuilding myself from the trauma of my youth and making myself a survivor of atrocity instead of a victim of it. No amount of therapy teaches you how to be resolved or determined to do this, you make it an act of will. This is where I learned my mantra of "There is never a right time, there is never a perfect time, there is ALWAYS a better time" and what pushed me to heal myself up as best as I could, and in a matter of minutes it was all just ripped away again - or so I was led to believe. I suppose having done it before I had proved myself resourceful and able to do it once again, and besides - what was my other option, you know what I mean? Suicide? Numbing myself with opiates again and committing suicide one feature at a time again? No. My life is very different now. I did all of that before I had a solid family of friends and children to be responsible to, and I had not met the love of my life. It was back to rebuilding, or at least I thought it was.
I was really surprised to discover that I had lost nothing I had learned and/or taught myself. I had forgotten all of it temporarily in my forced state of survival mode, but it came back in time. I decided that there was only one thing to do, and that was to remove myself from that state of mind and accept that something really, really awful had happened to me and nothing was going to take it away, not ever. This didn't have to mean that I was going to be locked into being terror stricken all of the time unless I chose that for myself. I let myself off the hook for this and agreed with myself that now and then I was going to get taken unawares and thrown back into it temporarily by outside triggers, and in those moments I would be at the mercy of something I couldn't control - and the only thing to do is to accept it, ride that wave, and reclaim control the first chance you get. That is all any of us has anyway.
The father of a friend of mine says we build our own monsters, the things we fear tremendously that are really just a state of overwhelm in one respect or another. We give these monsters more energy than we realize, more than they deserve, and this is what makes them real. For almost a year now, this has been my youngest monster. In the past few days I was given the opportunity to turn on a killing light for this monster, which threw up several more bricks on the wall I have been rebuilding and it is one of the nicest, best gifts I have ever been given. I know that there will always be times when I periodically get sucked back into those helpless feelings, but they are only temporary and they pass in time if I just relax and let go of it instead of letting it become a monster.
It is hard, but there is no other choice when it comes down to monster or no monster. I already have enough of them trailing behind me, the last thing I need is another one. It was extremely hard to learn this, so my hope in posting about it is that I'm opening a door for someone else to find something they might be looking for - whether known or unknown. Whether to accept something once and for all, or to let yourself (or someone else) off the hook about something, to forgive yourself or someone else, or just to accept that simply because something really terrible happens to you it doesn't have to ruin you and take away what you've worked so hard to have for yourself - unless you choose for it to be like that. When you get down to brass tacks about it, it's really simple. Monster or no monster.
So. No more monster for me.