Home Security: I Wish I Was Wonder Woman

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As you all know, home security has been a main line effort in my life over the past few months after two individuals attempted to break into my home on August 31.  I feel completely safe during the day.  In my mind, heinous crimes only happen in darkness.  Yes, I know that is a ridiculous thought, but in the light of day, I am a badass.  I am confident in my Wonder Woman abilities.  As darkness falls, however, my invisible plane and magic lasso disappear, replaced by anxiety of what is lurking in the shadows beyond my well lit home.  What I want most is to be able to see my bedroom as a sanctuary for rest again, but sadly, it has become a place of great vulnerability.

I put several measures into place that would hopefully help me feel safe while attempting to sleep, and my new pre-bed ritual has now become routine.  I turn off the T.V. in the den, check the deadbolts on all three exterior doors, turn the exterior lights on (front porch, back patio, and motion sensor lights), turn off the interior lights, lock my bedroom door from the inside, and arm the alarm system to instant from the panel in my bedroom so that the alarm will instantly sound if any door or window is opened.  Lastly, I ensure that my wasp spray and baseball bat are within easy reach of my pillow.  I thought these measures would be enough to ease my anxiety about going to sleep.  I was wrong.

One week ago, at 2:34 a.m., the alarm went off.  The sound of the alarm was so loud and startling, that my husband and I both shot straight up in bed.  My heart was immediately in my throat, and, I must admit, my initial disorientation was disturbing.  Wonder Woman was nowhere to be found.  Jay, on the other hand, sprung into action.  In his boxers and bare feet, he immediately grabbed the baseball bat from my side of our bed.  “Stay here!” was his only and very direct order to me.  He appeared to grow a foot and a half as he charged out of our bedroom with the alarm blaring in my ears.

I was immediately taken by his complete lack of fear.  How could this be?  How can two people who have shared the last 13 years and who seem to share so many personality traits react in such different ways to the same situation?  The fear that paralyzed me propelled him into action.  In my mind, I should have been at his side, ready for battle:  a pajama’ed version of Super Man and Wonder Woman.  In reality, I let him leave the bedroom alone.  Later, after the alarm was silenced and crisis averted, I asked why he didn’t take my trusty wasp spray with him.  He answered, “Because it’s better to swing (the bat) with two hands.”  While I sat trembling on my bed, my husband was searching the house with the intent of teeing off someone’s head.

Along with overestimating my abilities in a crisis, I also underestimated my alarm system.  The alarm system is also a fire system.  Apparently, turning on the heater for the first time this year caused the system to burn off dust on the coils, which set off the fire alarm.  After Jay searched the house to find no intruders, he turned off the alarm.  That is when we noticed the burning smell.  Jay went up to the attic (which I am also afraid of because God only knows what is hiding in my attic) to investigate.  The heater was fine.  I was not.

Back in our bedroom, we got back into bed.  I turned on the T.V. knowing that I was not going back to sleep that night.  I lay in bed with my heart pounding in my ears thinking about burglars, broken windows, home invasions, and house fires.  (Yay!  Now, I have a new worry to guide me towards my bottle of Xanax.)  Within a half hour, Jay was asleep.

So, why is he so much better equipped for these particular crises than I am?  I could sight his military training.  He has nearly two decades of training and actually charging onto a battlefield.  I have been taught to send care packages to the front lines.  Jay has been taught to fight.  I have been taught to pray for his well-being and survival.  Jay has been taught to protect me, and I have been more than happy to let him.

As a girl, I was taught to stick up for myself by being smart, making intelligent decisions, and by being a good human being.  I was taught to be polite and congratulated for being pretty.  I was taught to avoid situations that offer the opportunity to become a victim.  I wasn’t taught to fight.  As a boy, was Jay taught to protect those he loved?  Was he encouraged to become physically and mentally prepared for battle?  Was he encouraged to fight?  I think he, like many little boys fulfilling a traditional gender role, was taught to fight.

Now, I want Jay to teach me.  I want to be able to move from the living room to my bedroom each night without a sense of dread sitting on my chest.  I want to dismiss the boogeyman without anti-anxiety medication or sleep aids.  If I am ever going to be able to sleep comfortably again, I must learn how to fight.  I must gain the confidence to protect myself.

If you have learned how to fight, if you feel like Wonder Woman, please let me know how!  Leave a comment below describing how you defend your queendom.


Under Attack

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3 a.m. Friday, August 31

I am sleeping soundly, as anyone should be at 3 a.m.  The sound of the doorbell frantically ringing propels me straight up in bed.  The doorbell starts ringing again.  I jump out of bed, throw on my robe, and grab my cell phone.  I quickly go through my options:  go to the front door to see who is causing the frenetic ringing, ignore the ding, ding, ding and get back in bed, or hide in my bathroom until the ringing stops.  I dismiss these options and choose option four.  I stand perfectly still in the doorway of my bedroom.

The ringing stops for a second, and then I hear a terrifying sound.  The doorknob of the back door is rattling.  Without thinking I run the approximate 12 steps across my living room to the back door.  I bang on the door as hard as I can.  Suddenly, I realize the guttural, terrifying screams I hear are coming from my mouth.

“Get out!  Get out!  Get out!”

I flip the patio light on and try to peer through the blinds.  I can’t see anything.  The condensation on the windowpanes mixed with the patio light creates a blur.

The rattling and the horrible ringing have stopped.  I run back to my bedroom while dialing 911 on my cell phone.

“Someone’s trying to break into my house!”

I’m not sure why after banging on the door and yelling, as if trying to chase away a bear, I choose a whispered scream now, but I think quiet is best.  I desperately try to hear what is happening beyond my walls, but only hear my heartbeat clanging in my ears.

Three very long and terrifying minutes later, the 911 dispatcher tells me that the police have arrived and are waiting at my front door.  In the dark, I creep to the front door and turn on the front porch light.  I nearly pass out when I see a man dressed all in black approaching my porch.  (Someone needs to explain to me why police officers must wear such dark colors.  Why not yellow or red or some color that signifies safety.  The boogeyman wears black.)

After the police have searched my front, back, and side yards, they come back to the door.  I tell them the whole story:  the doorbell ringing, the back door rattling, my banging and yelling at the back door.

“Well, ma’am, we can’t find anyone on the premises,” says the lead officer.

“Uh, huh.”  My head is spinning.

“It was probably just a dog or an animal messing with your door,” from the lead officer again.

I come to.  “Sir, a dog wouldn’t ring my doorbell!”

“Oh, well, no, a dog wouldn’t do that.”

“No.”  My body is shaking uncontrollably as the three officers try to offer explanations or dismiss my fear.  I don’t know what the following comments were supposed to accomplish.

“We didn’t see any footprints,” says officer number two.  Do people leave footprints in grass?

“Ma’am, do you realize your side gate is propped open?” asks officer number three.

“I did not leave the gate open.  If the gate is propped open, that is where they got in and ran out!”  The next morning, I discover that the lock has been ripped out of the wood of my fence.

“Are you here by yourself?” asks the lead officer.

“Yes.”  Tears start to pour down my face.

“Are you o.k.?”

“No.”

“Well, we got here in three minutes.”  I think this was supposed to be a comforting statement.  “If you have any more trouble, we are just a phone call away.”   And then they left.

One week later…

That last statement from the lead officer was definitely supposed to offer comfort, but it fell painfully short.  The concept of more trouble has haunted me for the last week.  I still have to live here and often by myself.  Whoever tried to get in this house is still out there.  I never want to endure the three minutes of waiting in my bedroom doorway to be saved or killed again.  And yes, my wild imagination went immediately to killed, possibly tortured first, but definitely killed.  Police officers being three minutes away offer no comfort whatsoever.  A lot can happen in three minutes.

I finally fell back asleep that morning around 6 a.m.  Thank goodness for blackout drapes.  I dreamt of broken windows, dismissive police officers, and busted locks.  At 10 a.m. on August 31, I started to piece together DIY home security.

If whoever ruined my sense of safety is out there, reading this post, here are a few things you should know:

  1. My neighbors know what you did, and they are on the lookout for you.
  2. The property handyman has put new locks on both gates.  You will have to tear down the fence to get in the back yard next time.  Good luck.
  3. $3 bought me a few “Beware of the dog” signs.  Do I have a dog?   How big is it?  Will it rip your balls off if you step foot on my property again?
  4. My alarm system has been checked and is armed at all times.  If you trip the alarm, I hope the loud as hell ringing makes you piss yourself.
  5. Since your last visit, a banana spider, three inches in length, has woven a thick web on my patio.  The web now blocks the exterior entrance to the patio.  If you choose to creep up my patio steps again, Charlotte will attack you.  She’s waiting for you.  Would you like to meet her?
  6. I have new bulbs in the front and back porch lights, energy efficient and bright.  They will never be turned off again.  You will never know if I am home or not.  The next time you come over, you better hope that I am away.  You have created a rage inside me that I doubt will go away any time soon.  So, the lights stay on, lit up like the 4th of July!
  7. And speaking of said rage, I now sleep with a can of wasp spray next to my bed.  It shoots poison 27 feet.  I will hose you down so that you are choking on it.  And if that doesn’t work, in my other hand will be the baseball bat engraved with my wedding date.  I will tattoo your forehead with the date and the Louisville Slugger logo.  Are you ready for your make over?  I am.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?  Bullshit.  Hell hath no fury like a woman scared out of her mind.