No, this is not a drill.
No, this is not a joke.
And no—for goodness sakes, no—this is not a bad Star Trek reference.
This is the completely (unfortunate) true story of an all-too-recent break-in at my brand new apartment.
That's right-- someone broke into my home.
At first, I held it together. Then, I… quickly fell apart.
It took two long weeks and one good friend to put me back together.
I know this is going to sound crazy, but it wasn’t until someone invaded my personal space that I understood the meaning of trust and friendship. It wasn’t until someone forced their w ay into my home, that I learned the power of being vulnerable. And it wasn’t until I had to deal with the aftermath of a violating trauma that I learned the truth about choosing happiness despite your circumstances.
Who knew distress could be that… umm… Paradoxical? Confusing? Unexpected?
Well, friends, it’s a lot of things.
Come back with me and I’ll explain.
Here’s what happened.
One Sunday evening, my roommate and I were out having dinner with two of our friends. We had just wrapped up Church and were enjoying some much needed pizza, beer, and late-weekend-relaxation.
That’s when we got the call.
We were all waiting for our checks, so my roommate checked her phone for messages before we left.
I knew something was wrong the minute I saw her face.
Her jaw dropped. Her eyes widened. Her hand flew up to cover her mouth.
And her gasp took up most of the air in the room.
Once she caught her breath, she looked at me with terror.
“Someone… that was our landlord… someone was making noise in our apartment… someone… someone broke the windows and there was yelling and banging on the doors and the cops… the neighbors called the cops… and the cops are there and there was a guy screaming and yelling…
Oh my God.
We have to go home.”
As you can imagine, my reaction went something like this:
Everything that happened between standing up and shaking hands with the police officer was a blur.
But the weird part… was the state of the house once we arrived.
The windows were intact. The door was closed. The lights were on.
I looked in through the window, and I could still see my laptop sitting on the table in the living room.
Something was weird about this.
I sheepishly asked the officer if I could enter my own house (I could write a whole blog on that feeling, btw), and he said sure. But wait…
“Check the door, first,” he said.
Umm… for what, I remember thinking.
“Push on it. See if it’s broken.”
I know it might be dumb, but I hadn’t even thought of that…
So I pushed on the door…
And it swung wide open.
On the floor, pieces of wood from the door paneling were everywhere. Shards of glass from holes in the door windows (which I had conveniently overlooked), were scattered among the splinters. An entire panel was hanging from the wall.
That was when the officer went on high alert.
“Everybody back,” he screamed.
We all—my roommate, myself, her boyfriend, our friend, and three neighbors—backed away around the corner or the apartment. We watched as the officer entered the apartment. We heard him call for backup. We waited anxiously while he…
… remained in the house.
For a while.
Like, an awkwardly long while.
This can’t be good, I remember thinking.
But at no point was I ready for what happened next.
Two more officers entered the apartment. Many more breathless moments went by. One of the officers emerged… and in his hand…
He had a driver’s license.
IS THERE A PERSON IN THERE?!
“Yes, ma’am. There’s a man in your apartment. Do you know him?” he asked.
Uhhhh… no… no, we don’t know him.
“Ok, well, we are detaining him right now. He is not ok. He is clearly on drugs or incredibly intoxicated. We will be bringing him out in a few moments. Then, you will be able to go into your apartment to see if anything is missing.”
We waited. We watched. We. Were. Horrified.
Out comes this man—average build, regular clothes, non-descript. Except… he was kicking and screaming and wailing and swearing and yelling and oh-my-gosh…
He was in our apartment.
As soon as they got him out and told us the apartment was clear, I went into what I call:
Tracy Crisis Mode.
TCM for short.
TCM is incredibly capable at handling stress. TCM asks the cops all the right questions. TCM accurately assess damage. TCM consoles her roommate who is beside herself because this man had been in her bed.
Yes, that’s right—in her bed.
Anyway, TCM was going to handle this shit.
No stone was going to be left unturned.
TCM appears for a multitude of reasons. She thinks that the people around her need more than she does, so she doesn’t want to leave them hanging. She thinks that the people around her expect her to be able to handle anything, so she doesn’t want to let them down. She thinks that the people around her…
Need her more than she needs them.
So she performs.
Unfortunately, TCM is a fleeting being.
She only likes to make short appearances. Cameos, if you will. Then, once she’s had her fifteen minutes of fame, she’s outta there.
And when TCM is gone, we get a less… umm… “together” individual.
I call her:
Tracy Who Cries At Starbucks In Front Of Her Boss.
TWCASIFOHB for short.
Errrr… that’s kinda long, actually.
Let’s just call her TWC.
TWC… is a hot damn mess. TWC lets it all hang out. TWC doesn’t care when or where she needs to cry, because dammit, she just needs to cry.
TWC gets out all the emotion and processing and blehhhhh that TCM just won’t show.
No tear un-dropped… if that’s a thing.
TWC appears for a multitude of reasons, as well. She knows that value in processing emotions. She gets overwhelmed with the fact that she hasn’t, well, faced facts. She finally lets Real Tracy realize that hey…
Sometimes… she needs people more than they need her.
So she cries.
Fortunately for the people who get to pick up the pieces, TWC can be consoled.
She’s also pretty fleeting.
Not so much cameo-status, but definitely a minor character at best.
And once I dealt with everything that happened, I got my personal favorite version of myself to come back.
This one I like to call:
Yes, that’s a Mitch Hedburg reference, and if you got it—well, I love you.
But here’s the deal.
Tracy All-Together, or TAT, has this one, special, vital talent that trumps any crisis mode or emotion processing skills in spades.
TAT had the incredible ability to choose to be happy…
… despite her circumstances.
In TAT’s world, the situation does not determine the outcome.
This is obviously easier said than done. I mean, I really wanted to feel violated and unsafe and scared to go home. I wanted to whine and complain about having my safe place invaded. I wanted people to feel bad for me.
Most of all, I wanted to remain a victim.
But not in TAT’s world.
In TAT’s world, her friends become an invaluable source of inspiration and courage. Her roommate remains a shining light of “home” and “hope.” Her neighbors reassure here that she is safe. Her family proves to her that there are good people everywhere.
It took a significant blow to my comfort zone to realize that I don’t have to be a victim.
I can choose to be happy in my apartment again. I can choose to feel safe when I sleep at night. I can choose to keep calling it “home.”
Think about your life and the traumas and struggles you’re so desperately holding on to and ask yourself…
Can I choose something else?
Maybe… just maybe… you can.
Now I want to hear from you!
- Was there ever a trauma in your life that made appreciate the people around you?
- What did that teach you?
Leave your comments here under the blog!