This picture has nothing to do with this post, but this guy, he makes me feel safe.
I was in a bad place last summer. My sense of self worth was pretty low and I made some big mistakes because of it. Particularly I spent a lot of the summer talking to someone I shouldn’t have been talking too. The attention was nice. But the problem with making these kinds of mistakes, is that they don’t always fade away when we want them to.
I’ve always prided myself on being a fairly independent woman. I own property, I have a car, I pay my own bills. I know how to use hand tools, I can shovel and use a snowblower. And I’ve lived alone for a lot of my adult life.
Single women living alone is not uncommon these days, yet before moving in with JW I was often asked if I was nervous living by myself and people seemed surprised when I proudly shook my head and said that I wasn’t.
Truth is that I really enjoyed living alone, and I didn’t see any reason to be nervous. But all of that changed for me one night last October.
I remember the date well, October 20th. It was a typical fall evening. Cold and a little damp. I had spent the evening shopping, came home around 7 and planned to carve a pumpkin. (You’re never too old to be a kid sometimes). The chill from outside seemed to have settled into my bones so I decided to take a shower before I got down to business.
When I exited the shower I discovered that a guy I had asked to remove himself from my life had let himself into my apartment uninvited, unannounced and most definitely unwanted.
I had no idea how to react as I stood in my hallway in only a towel, in shock, staring at someone I had hoped to never see again.
I immediately excused myself to get dressed and once in the privacy of my bedroom I texted my friends to let them know what was happening. Hoping that someone would show up and that he would leave. No one did.
I had no idea why he was in my home. Our communications had ended a month or so prior on a less than friendly note. I may have been being a little dramatic in my head, but I was concerned that he was unstable so I decided the safest thing to do was to play it friendly, try to find out why he was there, what his motive was. I sat as far away from him as I could, without it being obvious. I wanted to be able to send out text messages without him reading them.
I’m terrible at small talk in the best of circumstances, it was undoubtedly more difficult for me that night. After a half hour or so he got up from where he was sitting and moved to sit next to me on the couch. And then it became clear why he was there. He asked me if I was interested in him. Wanted to know why I wouldn’t talk to him anymore. He refused to hear me when I said I wasn’t I had to keep repeating that sentiment over and over. The more I rejected him, the more frustrated we both became.
As his frustration grew, so did my fear. I told him that I had friends waiting on me, hoping he would take the hint and leave. I just wanted him gone. But he stayed. And then he leaned in an tried to kiss me, but I turned away.
He became extremely aggravated. Wanted to know why his advances had rejected and I had to again tell him I didn’t want to be involved with him. He asked if I wanted him to leave. I said that I did. He stormed out.
As soon as I knew he was gone, I rushed to the door and locked it.
I never saw him again.
The relief I felt when he finally left was quickly replaced my an unshakable uneasiness and fear.
It wasn’t a violent encounter. I wasn’t attacked. But I felt violated, and for the first time ever, unsafe in my own home.
For weeks I was unable to sleep at all. I functioned on Red Bull and sugar. I refused to leave my home after dark unless I had someone with me. I kept the lights on all of the time.
A month or so later JW and I began dating. The nights he would stay over were the only ones I was able to sleep.
I became obsessive about locking the door as soon as I closed it. I checked all of the rooms and closets every time I returned home. Before bed, I would check them all again. Every sound and night startled me, kept me awake.
I often think of that night. Of how it shook me to my core. Since JW and I moved in together, things have improved dramatically. I can sleep home alone at night, as long as my bedroom door is completely closed. Most nights I am okay, but some nights, like last night, sleep eludes me.