Thursday, February 12, 2009

Unfortunately Consuming

I'm using this entry to make a serious confession. I'm not very proud of this, but maybe sharing it will help me to overcome. I have this consuming fear that someone will break into our house when I'm home alone. Recently, i've attempted to discover when this fear actually began and I think this is how:

For starters (just a little background here), I was fortunate and blessed to have grown up in a very safe home in a safe area. My parent's house sits right on a quiet lake at the bottom of a long driveway. I can't think of a time that I locked my car door before going in for the night. I don't remember waking up to strange noises or anything like that because it just wasn't ever a fear. THEN I moved to the oh so awesome city of Los Angeles.

Experience #1: There were a number of incidences around the APU campus that involved creepy men groping girls when they'd go out for a run, but nothing too serious ever happened - At least not that I know of. I sort of just tucked the recommendations to be cautious and aware in my back pocket until one night after a choir concert. We had just returned to campus late - about 10 p.m. - and for some reason I had to stay back and talk with our choir director. The guys were really good about not letting girls walk back to their apartment alone, but I insisted that a guy who offered to wait for me actually not wait because I didn't want to inconvenience him. I assured him i'd be fine so he went ahead and left. I made it most of the way to my apartment when I stupidly decided to enter the side gate (locked by code) rather than the front gate which actually had street lights out in front of it. As I approached the door in my choir dress and heels, I heard a man's voice behind me. "Hey, come here." That's when I said, "What??" Then he said, "Come here." Honest to goodness I assumed this guy was another student who knew me, but his face was shadowed by a baseball cap so I couldn't tell for sure. That's when instinct shot straight through me and at the same time I noticed the duffle bag over his shoulder. Something about his voice and the way he had approached me (while my back was turned...in the dark...at 11 p.m.....with no one else around in that moment. I immediately punched the code into the key pad and ran through the gate. That's when he started yelling at me! Not to sound too dramatic, but I know that guy was up to no good. I called campus police, but there wasn't much they could do without much of a description of the creepo.

Experience #2: I won't go into the long details about the transformation of mine and Aaron's relationship, but I had actually come out to D.C. to visit for about 3 weeks prior to moving out about a month later. Before I came out for my lengthy visit, I was so excited and didn't think I would have any hesitations. But, about 1 week into my visit, things changed a bit. You'd think I would have learned from my college experience, but no, not much. One day while Aaron was at work, I decided to take a walk up to the Target shopping center about 3/4 of a mile away. I didn't realize there were two ways to get there but I ended up taking the route that went along Richmond Highway which is a really busy street in Alexandria. My next stupid mistake was grabbing my I-Pod and cranking it. Ugh. Anyway, I was just about to Target when a man startled me in a black honda which had pulled up next to me. To make a long crazy story short, he kept asking me to get in his car with him. I refused - Of course. I began walking again. That's when he pulled into the closest parking lot and had the nerve to get out of his car! He approached me on foot and told me he "wanted to take me on a date." That's when I said, "Um, I really don't think my boyfriend would appreciate you doing this." I then told him to "please leave me alone." He huffed a bit then got back in his car (i'm walking a bit faster now.) That's when I realize that he was creeping in the right lane behind me. So naturally I made a run for it to the Target parking lot. This crazy guy started chasing me with his car through the parking lot WHILE PEOPLE WATCHED! I'm in tears now and my heart has just dropped to my toes while I go running into the store and hid in the women's clothing. I called Aaron and he left work early to come get me. I still regret not calling the police. He had a CVS pharmacy polo on and a few weeks later I recognized his car in the CVS parking lot right by our house. The regret.

Experience #3: My car broke down last spring (surprise surprise) so I had to walk to the metro one morning from Aaron's house to get to work. That's when an old nasty man came up beside me in an old maroon toyota and said, "Hey, let me give you a ride. You look like you're going to the metro." Thanks, Sherlock. Then he said,"I'm going there anyway and I can drop you off." I said all too nicely, "No, i'm fine." This guy started to get antsy (Dude! What is it with the men out here?!?) and he yelled, "Just get in my car! I told you I'm going to the metro!" Alright bucko, what part of N-O don't you understand?? "No!" I said. Then he just jetted off. For the record, rather than turning left to go to the metro, he hesitated at the innersection and turned right. I broke into full on tears, called Aaron and then called in late to work so I could get myself together. I thank God that under these last two cicrumstances, there were a lot of other people around. But, let me tell you, people are funny. I think we get so caught up in what we're doing that we aren't very observant. Now I often wonder how many terrible things happen in public and in broad daylight. Scary.

Well, you might be wondering why this is coming out in a blog now. That's because there was an incident this afternoon. I can admit, I love our house (the remodels are amazing) but we have a lot of strange people that walk around here. We're the end unit on a pretty busy street and there just so happens to be a homeless man that sleeps in his car out front. I have no idea if this is even legal. Anyway, Aaron also caught 3 teenagers smoking pot just behind our fence. Oh joy. All of that to say that we just installed new french doors in our basement that lead out into our backyard. It's a bit exposed because part of our fence fell down when it was windy outside but we'll be fixing it soon. Of course I asked Aaron to immediately put the dead bolt and door knob on because I didn't want to be asking for something stupid to happen, so he did. Well, this afternoon as I was painting upstairs, I came down to the basement to get a paint brush and the right side of the french doors was swung wide open. For a split second I thought, "I KNOW I locked both locks." So I threw my stuff down and grabbed my cell phone as I ran out the door. I called Aaron in a panic and said, "I think someone tried to break into the house!" He says, "Oh, no, it's windy and the doors aren't secure yet." WHAT?!? He feels really bad that this happened and I feel bad because I really put him through the ringer over it. He knows the experiences i've had out here and that it's not safe for our doors to be like that when i'm home alone all day. It turns out that the doors swung open (locks still in tact) because the wind picked up and pushed them open since they weren't secure.

Now i've just been thinking, "What's the point of having two locks on the door if a toddler could press it open with their little finger??!?!" I love Aaron so much and I know he means well, but i'm not particularly happy this happened. I suppose I could blame it on my bad experiences. I just don't want to live in fear like this forever. Interestingly enough, i've just started a bible study at church that has already been confronting me with my fears. I pray there's hope because I want more than anything to trust that God can and WILL protect me all the time! But I also keep telling Aaron, "Let's at least still try to be responsible people."

:(

7 comments:

Meghan said...

Jenny,

Honestly... I don't think you should feel shame for having the fears that you do. I know you mentioned your bible study group confronting your fears, but we, especially as women, live in a world that just isn't very safe.

I put this cheesy doorstop alarm under my front door when I go to sleep and I have NO regrets/guilt about it, because let's be honest... bad stuff happens.

This isn't meant to be a "be afraid, be very afraid" comment, but to say "God will protect me, I shouldn't have fears" doesn't hold up in life... we see it all the time. People who are "protected" are also harmed. We don't live in a safe bubble because we're Christians and you have actually had a number of very frightening experiences.

All this to say... Your fears/concerns/nervousness seems really valid and healthy based on your experiences and although we of course always hope for safety and protection, you are exactly right... get those freaking doors fixed... and get a door stop alarm if you're anything like me :)

Be safe!

Aaron and Jenny Meredith said...

Thanks for the advice, Meghan. You really are right. There is an element as Christians where we say, "God is always with us", but we do live in a very scary world (esp. as women...men just don't understand sometimes...) and it would be so irresponsible to not take proper measures to ensure that we are aware of our surroundings. I'm thankful that i've been exposed to a "world" I never knew growing up, but it sure freaks me out at times! I like your idea of the door alarm. My husband is so handy, i'll have him install it! I did demand that we put an extra lock on our front door, too...which is good.

I know your career brings many women into your path who have gone through some terrible experiences. It just makes me care all the more about the dangers and fears that women face.

Thanks for your thoughts. As always, I appreciate them!

Mari and the girls said...

Girl I hope you carry pepper spray! I have some on my key chain and I have never even encountered anyone creepy! If I were you, I probably would be carrying a gun instead! Seriously though, get some.

I understand your dilemma between knowing God is protecting you and still being afraid. I actually feel that same way right now with illness. I am so freaking afraid of getting sick it's bordering on unhealthy. I pray that God keeps me safe, and I tell Him I trust him, but my non stop worrying says otherwise. It's a constant struggle. You'll be in my prayers.

PS. I'll get back to you on Facebook soon!

dgordon said...

Jen:

God calls us to trust AND to use common sense. The Holy Spirit nudges us at interesting times and we need to listen and sometimes act. It's not always easy to know when we cross that line into obsessive worry. I will pray for discernment for you and for protection. I need help with that every single day.

It sounds like you learned a lot from each experience.

I love you and Aaron so much!

XXXOOO, Mom

dgordon said...

Hey Jenn...

How about some pics of your decorated house...can't wait to see!!

grannyj said...

Dear Jenny,

My heart goes out to you. I've had those types of experiences in my life as well. Unfortunaly, evil is all around of us and we have to keep our wits about us and remember to pray. I know that God wants us to put all into his hands but I also believe He wants us to be smart. There are nights I wake up and this old house creaks and pops and I am sure someone is out there trying to get in . . . other times I roll over and go back to sleep. So continue to keep your doors and windows locked, double checking even when we think we are bein silly - it makes us feel better. Find comfort in knowing you that you have someone who loves you and would do anything and everything to keep you safe.

Let me know when you are coming out to meet our newest little angel. We could have coffee, help Beccy and catch up.

Hello and my love to Aaron

Love you much Miss Jenny, Joan

Mari and the girls said...

Hey girl, I read this verse in church on Sunday and I immediately thought of you - it was something in Phillipians - "Do not worry about anything, instead pray about everything."

I've been trying to do this, and thought I would share with you too.

Hope you are well!