A Deep and Terrible Understanding

On Friday afternoon, as I lay in my bed, napping in preparation for my impending night shift, a man broke into my house and made it into my bedroom before I woke up and realized my home had been invaded. The bad guy quickly fled upon my waking and I am fine – physically anyway – but there is a terrible anger burning in me, and an awful understanding of what it means to have your life broken into.

One of my writing mentors, after reading my last blog post, forbade me from writing another blog until I’d written at least 1000 words of original fiction. But this event has me rattled, angry and bent out of shape, and I am writing about it to try and find a bit of peace. I am vitally upset, and now I’m going to make you all suffer with me. So, my dear writing mentor, you will have to cut me a little slack, and forgive my transgression.

The evil-doer, it seems, pried open the back window of my house. He stole my cell phone, which was beside the window, and then made his way through several rooms, before coming to my bedroom. I was dead to the world, as I always am if I manage to fall asleep during the day, and didn’t hear him at all. The bad guy couldn’t find the light switch in my room, apparently, and opened the black-out curtains I have to keep the room dark so I can sleep during the day. When the room got brighter, I came half way to consciousness, and rolled over. The bad guy swore, ran down my stairs, out my front door and into a waiting vehicle, which peeled out of my driveway.

It took me several moments to realize that I hadn’t dreamed the whole thing, and there had actually been someone in my house. Once I was with it, I ran to my neighbor’s house, called the police, called my wife, yelled and swore – the usual.

In all, the event could have been much worse. I was never in any real danger; most break and enter artists are horrible cowards and break into houses in the middle of the day when they think the occupants will be at work, and if it came down to a confrontation between me and the shit-bag, I think that he is likely to be the one who was in danger. Also, the only thing we lost was my cell phone, which is little more than an inconvenience due to the lost contacts and other information.

The thing that really bothers me is that I no longer feel like I can rest in my own house.

It’s kind of funny, I suppose; I’ve been a street cop for nearly 10 years, first as a constable, then as a corporal (supervisor). I’ve been to probably a thousand break and enter files in that time, and I’ve met all those unfortunate occupants whose lives have been irrevocably disrupted by a horrible invasion into their homes. I’ve always tried to be sympathetic, as I rummaged through the remains of their lives looking for evidence, trying to catch the rat-fuck who did them such awful injury, but I’ve never, until now, reached a full understanding of what they’d gone through.

Now I know. And I don’t like it at all.

Much of our lives is like this, I think. You don’t appreciate a thing until it is gone – a thing like security in your own home. You don’t appreciate a story until your life is turned upon its ear and your ability to tell that story has fled from you. You don’t really understand a helpless anger until it rests at the center of you, and will not be tamped down.

I got another apt Mark Twain quote off the calendar my wife got me: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Reading that quote I know I will get over this thing, as we all get over the things that come to trouble us in our lives. I will take this craft of mine, and feed this grist into the mill of my mind, and come out the other side a better storyteller.

It is just hard to remember that, sometimes, when you’ve not been able to sleep in your own home because you think every creak of your house is someone else coming to break in, and you leap out of bed hoping to catch them in the act and bash them silly.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you are faring better than I.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “A Deep and Terrible Understanding

  1. Hi Tyner, Just a note of support. My parents house was broken into twice and I saw what that does through their eyes. I’ve mentioned before the idea of a claiming ritual it can be as simple as going into each room and saying with athority, “This is mine.” Being in law enforcment you know all the pratical things you can do better than I ever will. Just hold on and know it gets better with time.

  2. That sucks, man! I can only imagine not feeling safe in my own home. We have an alarm, but I know that’s really only a slight deterrent. If they want in, they’re coming in – no matter what we do. We have a cat and I’m always closing shades because my wife likes to leave them open for him to see out. Me, I could care less! If I come home and we’ve been robbed because she’s left windows uncovered, I’m going to be pretty pissed! Hopefully it never happens.
    Very sorry to hear this.

    -Jimmy

  3. Sherri Graydon

    One good thing about having a cat in the house, is that you can blame all the little noises on them! But, really, I am very sorry that this happened to you, Tyner. I find it hard to believe the “bad guy” (for sure, male?) could be that stupid. You have seen so many of the rotten things they do. I am pretty insulated from the crazy stuff (knock on wood!!) But, last week a crazy came to work, while we were open, kicked in the back door a bit….and then wanted to give himself up. Pretty tense for awhile. He had walked from the hospital. Long walk. Anyway, once you get past this, and you WILL get past it, you will be an even better officer and a story teller! Mom2

  4. When I read what you had gone through a chill ran up my spine. I was reminded of one of the most horrifying scenes in your novel…yep…the break-in. All I can say is that I’m glad that you are safe and sound, and that it could have been much worse.

    On another note…put it into your next novel.:)

  5. I’ve had more than one break-in, including one in my twenties where I came home early, alone, and surprised the intruders who fled out the back door. It was just after I moved from Toronto to Montreal (the same weekend my brand new client, Via Rail, had their station bombed, killing three people.) The intruders dumped the contents of my dresser on the floor, ransacked closets and stole a number of things while my old cat Percy cowered under a table. Most painful was the loss of all the antique jewelry I’d inherited from my grandmother, pieces normally locked in a safety deposit box. (I’d been to the bank twice to arrange a new one. First they were on their lunch break, then they couldn’t find the keys.) The cops told me these beautifully crafted pieces would have gone into a melting pot in the back of a van before they even got to the end of our street. That stung.

    It’s been thirty years, and I still find myself surprised when I return home to see everything intact. However, I’ve also been the victim of a violent crime.

    What the break-in taught me was not to get too attached to things. Make no mistake, I love my things. I collect antique china and antiques, things that someone has taken the time to craft by hand. But they’re just that. Things. I’m their temporary owner. In time, they will pass on to someone else.

    I wasn’t injured in the break-in. Even my old cat was okay. The rest? It’s just stuff.

    So what do we do, as “victims” of a crime? Sometimes some practical things. Get an alarm system, or put the stickers on a window. Get a dog. You could hang your uniform by the back door where an intruder can see it. I used to put a large dog leash and water bowl outside the patio door, to make it look like a dog lived there. Allow yourself a few days to be pissed off. Channel those feelings into your writing. Realize that what you experienced will make you a better corporal and a more compassionate person to other victims. But then, choose to let the anger go. If you don’t, and you’re unsettled every time you hear a noise, then you’re letting the bad guys win. I like to think of the bad guys as lonely, sad, broken human beings without love, or compassion who may be driven to steal to feed an addiction, who eat alone, who will die alone. I feel sorry for them, and that makes me not feel like a victim.

    Never let the bad guys win. Sometimes, it’s just a state of mind. You get to choose, not them.

    So endeth the lesson by Mummy Pam. xoxo

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