I really debated on whether or not to post this. I am not sharing for sympathy or pity. Vulnerability is not my strong point. It feels awkward and uncomfortable, but in the interest of being authentic to who I am, I felt it was worth sharing.
I bought a ticket to a concert at a venue in town. It’s on the edge up Uptown. Not a bad area – not scary by any means. I anticipated parking in valet to avoid the walk since I was alone. When that was closed, I continued to drive around trying to find a spot. Twenty minutes later after trying five or six different lots and garages, I gave up. If you put me in this same situation five years ago, I would have parked a few blocks away and walked there while talking on the phone barely paying any attention to anything around me. Instead, I opted to just chalk it up to wasted money and come home. The thought of walking 10-15 minutes to the venue did not sit well with me. I know there are plenty of cars around, but I know that people barely pay attention to the road over their cell phones anymore so they certainly wouldn’t be good witnesses if something went wrong for me. Realistically would something have happened on the walk to and from the venue? Probably not. But I don’t live in the same world I lived in five years ago.
For the longest, I was damn near fearless. I walked and drove through neighborhoods without second guessing where I was. I never thought anything of walking through a parking garage or empty parking lot. My pulse didn’t quicken when I opened my apartment door after a day at work. I didn’t break out into a cold sweat when I heard something outside. I didn’t have panic attacks when I heard people knock on my door. I was confident. I was probably foolishly ignorant of all the things that could happen. Maybe ignorant is not the word. I knew, but I never thought it could happen to me.
It’s almost been a year since my apartment was broken into. It was not a violent break in. The person got away with absolutely nothing and ran through my back door as soon as he heard me coming in the front. It wasn’t violence or a great loss of property that changed my world. It was the violation. That’s the only word I know for it. I felt violated. I still feel violated. A person’s home is supposed to be their safe haven. A place they feel comfortable and safe from everything going on in the crazy world we live in. A man who knows nothing of me other than my decor of my apartment stole that away from me.
That night, while countless police officers, went through my apartment one of them told me that I was lucky that he left instead of staying & hiding until I came into the house. Yes, I was lucky. Thoughts poured through my head of how bad it could have been. I could have been assaulted, hurt, or killed. I wasn’t. I was lucky. I’m lucky I never had a bad experience before. But what happens when your luck runs out? I no longer live in a world where I believe it can’t happen to me. I live in a world where I believe that it’s almost not a matter of “if” but rather “when”. While I pray I never experience any other traumas, I do believe that if I continued to live my life with my head in the sand the way I had before it would be “when” instead of “if”.
Maybe, it isn’t all my experiences fault. Maybe it’s the fact I watch the news more so I see more reports of muggings, sexual assaults, and other violent crimes more than I did years ago. Let’s look at crime stats for Dallas:
Sexual assaults in 2014 was 499 total. In 2015 YTD there has been 604 reported.
Homicide in 2014 was at a record low of 94. This year we have 116.
Individual robbery is up to 2708 this year compared to 2502 last year.
Aggravated assault is currently at 2164 up from 2049 in 2014.
If those stats don’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, well I don’t know what will. But seriously, those are just a few categories they do reports on. Almost all of them are up from last year and that’s just year to date…the year isn’t over yet. Granted when you consider that there are just over a million people in Dallas as of the last census, those numbers seem small. In a book I was reading recently, it made the remark that the story of one is more powerful than the story of thousands. Accounts of faceless thousands evoke emotions. But once a person is given a powerful story of one individual it allows us as humans to make a personal connection that a large number statistic doesn’t allow. On the 2014 crime report, I am one of those numbers. It’s no longer a bunch of faceless thousands…all those people could have been me.
Maybe my age has caught up to me. Maybe my youthful years of carefree living are gone. Years of personal experiences, listening to horror stories of friends of friends, countless news stories have all left me more cautious and less trusting than before. On my recent trip to Paris, I had moments while standing at the iconic landmarks of the city and thought, what happens if things go sideways? Sadly that’s something we as a society have had to think about since 9/11. No longer can we live or travel without the what-ifs. In crowded spaces, I watch people for weird behavior, I scan for exit routes, I think of “what would I do” scenarios.
After the break in, I’m different. I get scared. I feel lonely. At times, I feel angry. I have been robbed of an innocence I can’t get back. I have no physical scars, but the emotional and mental toll that it has taken some days is exhausting. I’m not the same since the break in., I can’t be the same, but I do try to be better, smarter, and stronger.