Dad was standing at the door. I had a phone call from him, which was unusual, but now here he was…
I had a bad feeling as Mum and I got out of the car.
“We’ve had a break-in,” he said.
My first reaction was that it wasn’t true, it was some sort of misunderstanding. We accidentally left the patio doors open again? Oops, my bad. We left a window open and took something unusual with us to work? Sorry we panicked you, Mum and I are busy a lot.
This was different. He went on to say the patio door was smashed, the French window shattered into pieces. His and my mother’s room rummaged through. My room? Utterly turned over.
I didn’t want to see, but I had to check if something was missing, stolen. I heard Dad mentioning that the police thought it was for jewellery, and I realised I’d left a lot of mine out so I would wear it more…
I took the stairs two at a time, and then passed my room to see my parents’. Clothes lay all over the floor, my mother’s dressing table full of earrings, jewellery scattered and boxes overturned. I took a deep breath and headed back to my room.
The door was open. The light was on.
My citadel, my fortress, my safe place was sacked.
Papers lay all over the floor, boxes that housed my memories open and naked. Drawers were yanked open, clothes strewn everywhere, makeup on the floor but luckily not opened. Worst, my underwear drawer was wide open and every pair of knickers I own was flung across the bed.
I drew a sharp, jagged breath in and cried.
Adrenaline flooded my system. OhgodohgodohgodLOOK. Look at your room. Look how much has been moved, displaced by pawing hands. Look at the muddy footprint on the bed, look at the crumpled memories on the floor.
Mum was somehow there to cuddle me and let me know it was all right. She led me away from the room that was mine, downstairs, to where a terrified Juno puppy greeted me cautiously. Running my hands over her, checking for broken bones and bruises or cuts, I thanked the gods that she was safe and unhurt.
The evening was dire. I was still panicking, thinking of those perverted hands going through my underwear drawer. I felt sick. I felt violated all over again.
19 wanted to hunt the bastard down, cut off his fingers, pull out his eyes and drag him to the police. 14 was petrified, and fifteen was hidden so deep that I couldn’t even reach to ask her if she was ok. I could feel waves of terror from her, but nothing would get through.
I wasn’t doing great either.
I messaged the Dutchman immediately as I sat down with the sad little dog. She snuggled as close as she could withing a few minutes, reconnecting with me. She let me hug her close- she stayed perfectly still, and let me just tell her through touch how glad I was she was safe.
My phone buzzed.
“Oh my god, are you ok? Would you like me to call you?”
I did want him to call me. I set up my laptop and got Skype running, and he was there, all concern and love.
I started to cry again.
Over the next six hours, my PTSD worked itself out, I slowly calmed down, and ration and logic came back to assuage my fears. Dad told me it really wasn’t someone breaking in to scare us (I thought maybe my ex, or another creep I once knew), we found they really had been after jewellery (which is sad), the Dutchman helped me think of a safe space to imagine myself in when I needed to retreat from the world and then it was time for dinner. I had been talking to him for a while by this point, and that’s when it hit me- he was perfectly comfortable sitting there, helping me through my emotional turbulence, chilling out with me and also waiting for me to eat my tea whilst talking to both parents and my sister.
Whilst I know that J would have supported me, this is on a whole other level. Six hours later, as I signed out of Skype, I knew I had done something life-altering when we decided we had to be with the Dutchman- we’d chosen someone capable of handling our pain, or terror, or happiness- someone who matched us for the speed we love at, and the intensity of our emotions, but also who could help us control them.
Life is tough. I still flinch at noises in the house… but I know this will fade. I know that I have done something incredibly important by re-directing my life down this path- conversation is already going in important, even more life-changing places.