I've never been raped. But I think I might have some inkling about what the emotion of that experience might be like. Realize I said "inkling." I'd never profess to actually think I could understand what that act feels like, having (thankfully) never experienced it. On Friday, our house was burglarized. When I realized it had happened, it was like someone had socked me in the gut. There was a physical pain associated with it. And then came the sadness and fear and anger and frustration as I processed the fact that someone had entered my personal sanctuary and violated my sense of peace and wellbeing. My home has always been my little slice of heaven. It's the place where I can let down my guard, be comfortable, and know that the I am safely locked away from whatever else is going on outside the doors and walls of my haven. But that was violated and rocked on Friday and I've had a lot of processing to do.
I'll back up... I'd been having problems with my iPhone. Two trips to the Apple store at Southcenter did not fix the problem. Finally I made a call to Apple headquarters and talked to a nice guy who agreed that it was time to switch out the phone. He called me Friday morning and told me he could get me an appointment at the Southcenter store in the next hour. I jumped at the chance, knowing I had to work all weekend and wouldn't have another opportunity until the following week. I had planned on staying home and catching up on laundry and dishes and that sort of thing. But instead, I grabbed my wallet and phone and took off. Afterward, I met Mike for lunch since he works right there in Renton. We enjoyed a nice lunch together and then I headed home. I was gone no more than about 3-1/2 hours.
As I rounded the corner of my culdesac, I immediately sensed that something was wrong. When you live in a house for 9 years, you notice right away when something doesn't look right. The color of my front door was off. As I got closer to the house, I realized that this was so because the door was slightly ajar... not wide open, just slightly ajar... and this threw the light and shadows into a different pattern than my eyes were used to seeing. Let me say that this is not the first time I've come home to find my door ajar. Typically, it's never bothered me. I've always known that someone must not have closed it tightly or sometimes we go out the garage door and forget to check the front door. But this time I immediately knew that something was not right. For one thing, I had a sense of dread and evil. It was as though there was a bubble of evil all around my house. I could almost see it. I had a sick, disgusting, terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. And secondly, I remembered very, very distinctly coming out the front door and putting my key into the lock and turning the deadbolt. There is no way it could have gotten opened except from the inside.
I called Mike on the phone from the driveway and told him that our door was open. He asked if I had gone inside to check things out and I said, "No way. I'm too scared. What if someone is still in there? What if they have a gun or a knife? What if they were in there when I drove up and now they are hiding?" I walked to the side of the house... another sucker punch. The screen to our kitchen window was down on the ground and sitting in the leaves. However, the window itself was closed. I noticed one thing on the kitchen counter looked like it had been displaced, but it was something so minor that the kids could have moved it. The dirty dishes piled in the sink (the ones I had planned on staying home to wash before talking to the guys at Apple) were untouched and undisturbed. I walked back around to the front and used the garage door opener in the car to open the garage. Another bad sign... the door leading from my laundry room to the garage was open. I never leave that door open. I'm meticulous about keeping it closed because I don't like heat escaping into the garage. And a piece of wood we had near the door was broken and split. I did not enter the house.
I walked back out of the garage and decided to ease my way up the front walkway towards the front door. My heart was pounding and I was nervous and I could just FEEL the evil. I had Mike on the phone with me the entire time. I wanted him there in case anyone attacked me. At least he'd hear and be able to call police for me. I used my foot and tapped on the front door to open it up and then the major blow came. There in the corner of my living room, where there should have been a flat screen television, was an empty space. I said to Mike, "The TV is gone." Mind you, my feelings had NOTHING whatsoever to do with the TV. I just felt sick and violated and I began to shake. At that point Mike hung up and left work to come and meet me at home. I got back into my car, locked the door, and called the police. I was pretty surprised by my reaction while on the phone with the police. I was very calm but I was shaking and trying really hard not to cry while I gave her information. I just felt sick. Then all I could do was wait. So I sat in my car and updated my Facebook status to reflect what was going on and within minutes, Dianne (a nurse I work with) pulled up in my driveway. I was SO happy to see her. She gave me a big hug and stayed with me until Mike got home so that I wouldn't be alone. I am so thankful and grateful for friends. She really, really took the edge off my anxiety just by being there. Then Mike got home and he walked into the house and checked things out and made sure no one else was in there. Only then did I feel "safe" going inside. It felt odd walking in and seeing things missing, knowing that thieves had infiltrated our space.
A Federal Way police officer showed up. He made a report and took photographs. He's a very nice guy and we've since communicated with him a few more times and he's been very helpful. Then we filed a claim with our home owner's insurance. I don't expect that to be resolved for another week or so. In the meantime, we've had a security system installed and I do feel a lot better about having it. I like it and it's easy to use. I was able to sleep peacefully today while the kids were in school. I keep thinking that these guys could have come in one day while I was asleep in my bedroom. How scary!
As a follow up... I'm feeling better and better about the situation. I thought it would take me a LONG time to get over this feeling of violation. But I've come to realize over this past weekend that much of that feeling is in my mind. I have made a conscious effort to let go of those emotions. Yes, people came into my home uninvited and took things that belonged to us. However, if I allow that to consume me, then they win. If I allow those feelings to swallow me up, then my home will never be a haven for me again. So I choose to let it go. Moreover, I feel sorry for the thieves who committed this crime. I feel sorry that they were in such a place in their lives where they felt the need to stoop to such heinous acts. I pray for them. In the meantime, I'm taking my home back. It's MY piece of heaven on earth and I can't allow outside influences to change that happy fact.
I am thankful beyond words that none of my family was harmed or home when this crime took place. I'm thankful that the thieves chose only to take my things. They did not destroy things or turn things over or ransack my home. They simply took what they wanted and they left. In the grand scheme of things, it could have been much worse. Even in the face of such a despicable act, there are things to be thankful for.