When I was in college, I lived in an area of town called Five Points. At the time, there was a serial rapist in the area known as the Five Points rapist. Five Points was his territory and girls lived in fear. He'd hide while girls were taking out their trash, slip in their apartment while they were at the dumpster, and then rape them when they came back inside. He beat one girl so badly that she lost sight in one eye.
One weekend, I returned from an out of town trip with my best friend to a completely dark apartment. Dark save for the little light blinking on my answering machine. Beep. Hi Leandra, this is Don Landlord. Can you please give me a call when you return. It's important.
As it turns out, my next door neighbor had almost been attacked. She was home alone and was cleaning her apartment, all her windows open, music blaring. Her cat, which had been sitting in the window, got spooked by something and ran under her bed. Well that spooked her so she went to close the window. As soon as she did, a hand busted through the window. Needless to say, she ran out the front door and jumped into her car and went to a friend's house to call the police (this was pre-cell phone days. I know, right? It was practically the Dark Ages). The police came, checked it out, filed a report and told her she could probably go back home. No way the guy would come back. She was scared to death and there was no way she was going back that night. Turns out it was a good thing -- when she went back the next morning, the guy had come back and had dumped all her clothing out of all her dresser drawers.
Um, yeah. I get this message as I'm standing in my pitch black apartment, front window standing wide open. It felt like one of those moments when the babysitter gets the phone call "I know you're in the house!" Commence freak out. I immediately called my mom (almost always my first instinct!) and she came and spent the night with me.
My neighbor moved out the next week, but that really wasn't an option for me. For one thing, I loved living alone and I didn't want to move. Also, it just wasn't financially feasible. So for the next several months, I slept with a hammer in my bed, usually clutched in my hand, just under my pillow. And if you want to know the real truth, I had a gun in my apartment, too. I didn't sleep with it because that just freaked me right out -- I'm really not that big a fan of guns even though I know how to use one -- but I did take it with me if I went out at night. I was scared, sure, but I just became more careful. More watchful.
So why am I telling you all this? Because I feel like I used to be kind of a bad ass and now I'm thinking that I'm not. I'm okay when Mr. Daddy is home, but when he goes out of town I turn into a big ol' wuss. And not just about rapists, etc., but about other things, too. Storms, for example. Yesterday we had storms roll through all day. At one point during the day the tornado sirens went off and we had to go to the center of our building. Even though I wouldn't have normally been with Mr. Daddy during this time of day, I found myself wishing he were in town. And last night the thunder and lightning started in and I got out the weather radio. I'm a smart woman. I know what to do in a tornado. But there I sat, wishing Mr. Daddy were here. Just in case.
And the grill. I'm kind of afraid to use the grill. I mean, I KNOW how it works. I know what needs to be done to get it going, but I'm kind of intimidated by it. Why? How did this happen to me? This is the same person who drove all the way to Vermont and back BY HERSELF. I feared nothing. I could do anything.
So I'm determined to get my badassedness back (That is totally a word, by the way). I'm going to try to start facing some of my fears and reminding myself of the things that I CAN do. Don't worry, I'm not going to go running off willy nilly into tornadoes or anything, but I'm not going to let myself get intimidated by a grill for pete's sake.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you thought you were a badass? Are you still one? Or have you lost a little of your mojo, like me? Tell me, O Internets.
5 years ago