I’ll be in a self-imposed, writer’s isolation this week to work on book edits. Since it’s blog week, I thought it would be fun to share an excerpt with you. A sneak peek/VIP insider info sort of thing.
The excerpt below is a “diamond” in the rough (hahaha…get it? ;-p).
DAG Book (still trying to come up with a title!)
“One night, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard a loud bang and saw a flash of light through my bedroom curtains. I was too terrified to move. It had sounded like gunfire. I didn’t want to look out my window for fear that the person would see my curtains move, and know I was awake. I called 911 and two Sheriff Deputies showed up. It was late at night, but I was wide awake.
The one Deputy kept testing my memory by repeating back incorrectly what I said.
Deputy: “you said you heard two shots”
Me: “no, I said I only heard one”
I lived in a newer development with small city lots. The neighbors on the bedroom side of my house told the Deputies they hadn’t heard anything.
The two Deputies were professional and took my statement. When they left, I started doubting what I had seen and heard. Maybe I had dreamt it? Maybe it was a firecracker? I didn’t sleep that night, even with Diablo next to me.
I few weeks later, I heard two men’s voices outside my bedroom window, late at night. Again-I froze in bed and silently cursed Diablo for sleeping soundly, while I lay in fear. Where was my scary pit bull protector when I needed him?
After I didn’t hear anything for a few minutes, I assumed it was the neighbors and went to sleep.
While making coffee the next morning, I looked out my front window, down onto my driveway, and saw the explanation for the two male voices I’d heard the previous night. A vehicle had pulled into my driveway (it was winter and the recent snow was a great evidence collector), the passenger had gotten out and walked up to my front door. The driver had gotten out and walked around my house, to the base of my deck stairs, and back to the vehicle.
I remember feeling absolutely terrified.
My mind started racing. Was this related to the weird noise I had heard a few weeks ago? Were they casing my house? How ballsy to walk around my house in the winter, when I could easily see their tracks the next morning. Was this a psychological game and they were intentionally trying to intimidate me?
At the time, I was working on a law enforcement event in town, so I called one of my contacts. I shakingly told him about the tracks I was seeing around my house. I also mentioned that I thought I had heard a gunshot a few weeks prior. I felt so helpless and scared. I kept thinking, “WTF is wrong with me? I’m living by myself and I don’t have a single weapon in my house. (yes, yes-technically I had a variety of weapons in my house, but “affordances” wasn’t in my brain yet). I don’t have a plan as to what I would do if someone tried to break into my home. Obviously, my dog isn’t going to be any help.”
If we look at fear as a motivator instead of a hindrance, it can help us improve our lives. I didn’t want to live in fear in my own home. I needed to take accountability for my personal safety and create a plan.
My LE contact calmly reassured me that most likely, the individuals had mistaken my house as someone’s they knew. After walking around, they probably realized their mistake and left without incident. It was a reasonable explanation and it calmed me down.
It’s important to point out I had a law enforcement contact I knew and trusted enough to call and ask for advice. If I hadn’t had that connection, I would’ve been faced with the decision to either call the police non-emergency number or shrug it off and act like it wasn’t a big deal. As a single woman, living alone with her cuddly pit bull, I have to admit I probably would’ve shrugged it off.
I’m not saying it would’ve been the wrong choice, it simply would’ve been the choice I picked. As women, when we tell someone about something that freaked us out, but nothing bad happened, we hear “See? It was nothing.” We may even be told we were “probably overreacting”. This perpetuates the habit of downplaying our intuition when we sense something is off in our environment.
If I had called my Dad that morning instead of the LE contact, he would have done his best to reassure me that everything was fine, that I was okay, and then he would’ve whispered out of the side of his mouth “don’t tell your mother, it’ll freak her out”.
The message, “if something scared you, but nothing bad happened, you are fine. BUT…keep it to yourself because it might cause worry in someone else”, gets ingrained in our head.
Do you see the screwed-up messaging women get about their personal safety?
We need to change the conversation and talk about the real things women face. We need to talk about what violence towards women really looks like and how to create a plan that works for them. We need to stop making women feel like they should keep their fears to themselves because heaven forbid we make someone else uncomfortable.”