*Caution: this is a long post with details of my experience with home robbery and the aftermath of that; anxiety, stress and fear*
In December 2010, our home in Waco, Texas was broken into. Our things ransacked, taken and broken only 2 weeks before Christmas. Computer, TV, Wii, Playstation, jewelry, Christmas presents, school books, and Molly, my pet guinea pig.
We were out of town, visiting family in Nacogdoches when it happened. My baby sister was graduating from College and entering the big world with her Bachelor’s degree. We stayed with Travis’ family in Lufkin and made the short drive up to SFA on Saturday to see her walk across the stage and have dinner at Cotton Patch where she worked through college.
We could have left early on Saturday and gone home to Waco. In fact the memory of Travis asking if I wanted to is burned in my mind. I said no, wanting to live and enjoy the moment of my sister’s bliss and happiness all afternoon. Saturday night we went back to Lufkin to stay with the In Laws again, before leaving Sunday morning for home. Travis drove that day. When we pulled into our driveway the recycling bin was gone. I remember thinking, “who moved the bin?” Something felt off. I told Travis don’t touch anything and proceeded to walk along the ‘garage’ (which was converted to a game room) to our backyard. The gate was open. We always keep it latched, but didn’t have a lock on it. About halfway to the backyard I saw Charlie our cat, she had a very distinguishing tail and came running to me. Then I turned and saw the backdoor open. The room was ransacked. The bed flipped and stuff was thrown everywhere. Sherwin, our other cat appeared. I shoved them inside and pulled the door closed. Travis caught up with me and I told him to call the police, we had been robbed. I knew better than to go in. Didn’t want to destroy ‘evidence’, but I knew the house was clear. No one was in there. As I peer in the window, I stood on some wood siding next to the house. I feel a pinch in my foot but think nothing of it. Our home was just ransacked, the one place I felt safe in the world was just intruded upon. I called a co worker and she immediately came to be with us. When the police arrived they were unhelpful and degrading. Talking about how we were asking for it (getting robbed) by not closing our back windows, my response in no few words was no one should have been in my backyard from the beginning, it is private property. They didn’t seem amused and really didn’t seem like they cared at all.
My co worker, bless her soul, helped me make it through that day. Once I became numb to the fact that Molly the guinea pig was gone, I started to sort things. I washed every item of clothing, bedding and blanket. They touched all my stuff, including my boudoir drawer. Some of my most precious and heirloom jewelry was hanging on the wall, they missed that but took my jewelry box. Charm bracelet from childhood, gone. My James Avery charms and necklaces from childhood, including a charm from my sister also gone. Tiffany necklace with my initials that was a high school graduation gift, gone. Digital Camera, external hard drive, my iMac and ALL the photos gone, gone and gone.
That night we couldn’t stay in the house, I couldn’t do it. Friends of ours welcomed us into their home, and by us I mean Travis, me and our cats. We watched A Philadelphia Story, which is a favorite of ours and being overly emotional I may have cried through the whole thing while laughing. That night, we slept on our friends floor, the cats never left our side, sleeping by our faces and on our pillows. People talk about how cold cats can be but ours were the most comforting after what had just happened.
Travis’ dad came and helped us buy the big things to get by until insurance came through. We did have a $10,000 renter’s insurance. I am here to tell you that can’t even begin to cover all the things we own even with deflation. Especially the jewelry. (If I could go back and give myself one piece of info before all this happened it would be to get a larger policy and have a list of everything you own)
My landlord was a saint. She came and had the door replaced within the week, we also discovered 2 squirrels in our chimney. One alive and scratching for a way out and the other not so alive. Early in the week I went to the Dr, I realized that pinch I felt trying look in my windows was me stepping on a nail. I was supposed to work that week before the Christmas holiday. I may have ugly cried at the Dr office and told him what happened. He gave me a note to not return to work until after the 1st of the year.
Travis was enrolled in a 1 week course beginning the 2nd week of January in Fredericksburg, Texas, only at most a month from the robbery. My mom came for a few days, I may have impulsively gotten a puppy and I didn’t sleep. Or when I did it came from a pure lack of exhaustion and after barricading myself in my house every night before convincing myself to go to bed. After the ordeal, I went to counseling for a while. Talk about feeling vulnerable. In the end, my therapist or whatever told us the dog was probably the best thing for me. It gave me something to focus on and reminded me of hope, he still does. Good thing his name means happy/blessing.
I feel guilty for my anxiety. And I feel this way because I am a Christian. I have been told from the beginning of this relationship with God that the things I have on earth can’t come with me. And yet I have anxiety about someone coming in and taking my physical things and being in my home. No one should feel guilty for anxiety, no one. And no one should be made to feel guilty for it.
Fast Forward to May 2011, the dog is 6 months old. We know have kittens. One of our cats, Sherwin passed away a week after the robbery due to a condition we didn’t know he had. Travis is now on a 2 week trip to Tunisia and Morocco. And I am again alone. After a week, I begin feeling like I have a stomach bug. Doctor can’t find anything wrong with me. My mom comes and I actually feel physically better. She has to leave and go back home, to Tyler. I again get physically sick. My doctor asks what else is going on…and I tell him I am at home alone. He tells me I have a mild anxiety disorder, he says no drugs but that I need to learn to cope with what happened. Learn to cope, I am still learning.
Now, when I feel extreme pressure or stress, I can feel my stomach knotting up. A tightness in my chest, like someone is squeezing me. The thoughts of doubt overcoming my mind like a fog and I become restless. I have not overcome my anxiety, I haven’t even really learned to cope with it. I live with it each and everyday. Since the robbery, I have felt anxiety when I am alone from Travis for too long, when we were homeless for a month and half and looking for work in Colorado, when Travis was let go after moving across the state and more recently when I was involved in a fender bender. I have never felt stressed or anxious about driving until now and that scares me.
When someone has anxiety, they can’t help how they feel or react to it. I can’t. Learning to live with anxiety and stress, is hard. Knowing your triggers is a first step, the second is having a support system in place to guide you through your attacks.
Do you suffer from anxiety? Or know someone who does?