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.