In light of the recent wind storm that hit The Greater Vancouver Area on Tuesday night, I thought I'd reflect on one of the scariest moments of my life. I was having troubles sleeping last night due to the eerie noises of wind and the shadows from swaying trees that were haunting me through my bedroom blinds. My mind took me to scary thoughts about my past that I try tirelessly to forget, especially since living on my own with Hudson.
Back in 2007, I was living in my mom and step-dad's basement suite while I was transitioning from University life to career life. It was very, very early one March morning just after Daylight Savings time had changed, causing the wee hours to be extra dark. I was alone in the basement suite, and slept with my cat, Bermuda, on my bed every night. I awoke suddenly this particular morning, as Bermuda was projecting the most intense, demon-like noises I have ever heard, while simultaneously rounding the imaginary bases of my bed as fast as he possibly could.
Sleeping on my stomach, when I woke, I snapped my head sideways towards the main part of my room to see what the issue was. What I saw was what I try to erase from my mind every single day.
A man stood in the middle of my bedroom. Dressed in head-to-toe black, we locked eyes. I froze. I was as immobile as a child when they believe monsters are hiding in their room. "If I don't move, don't breathe, and don't blink, he will go away and this will all end", I thought to myself. In that split moment that felt like an eternity, I remember my mind racing rapidly with hundreds of thoughts and questions. "How was he here? Why was he here? What did he want from me? Someone help me; make this all go away."
He began to walk away, backwards, and ever so slowly exited my room. It seemed as though he was a spirit, simply floating away from me. "Was he a spirit? Was he real? He couldn't be." My mind was playing tricks on me - I was almost certain of it. I grabbed my cell phone from under my pillow, and dialed my Mom's number upstairs...
Startled (because of the early hour), she answered frantically. "Mom, just a second ago there was a man in my room." She didn't even hesitate, dropped the phone, and began to run throughout the house until she arrived in the basement suite. "Oh my god, the back door is wide open."
That's all it took. That was the reassurance my body and brain needed to immediately go into shock mode. It really happened. I fell out of my bed and onto the floor. I curled up in a ball and began to struggle for air. I couldn't breathe. I remember gasping and gasping for air, but I just couldn't breathe.
My mom dialed 911 from my cell phone and then grabbed me to pull me up and whisk me away to the upstairs portion of the house. I remember being helpless. My limbs weren't working. My mom had to somewhat drag me as if I had been injured during a hockey game and my trainer was aiding in my every move to quickly and safely get me off the ice.
The next thing I remember was sitting at the kitchen window with a blank stare, looking to the outside world. I went from hysterical to blank nothingness. The wait for police was excruciating, and what was even more awful is that the officer who was dispatched took 45 minutes to get to my home. 45 minutes!
I dont remember much of when the police officer was there, but I just remember him walking around, checking out the windows and doors. He clarified what my mom and I had already figured out; he got into the house through the window that hosted the air conditioner. He then handed me a card, "If you need counselling, here's who to call."
I'm no crime and policing expert, but he didn't finger print, he didn't offer follow up, and he had next to no compassion.
I felt helpless. I felt scared. I felt anxious. I felt violated. I felt victimized. I felt horrendous.
I could not return to the basement suite. My mom had to retrieve all of my belongings and move them to the upstairs bedroom right beside hers. The thought of the basement suite physically made me sick. If I got to close to it, I would get lightheaded, my vision would start to become black, I would sweat and lose my breath, and nearly vomit. It was awful.
Later that day, my mom and I discovered that all of the cordless phones were missing. The man dressed in black had taken each and every one of the cordless phones that he could find. My mom called the police back to inform them but they claimed there was nothing they could do. The phones were not really of value. We obviously didn't care about the cost to replace a few phones, but what we did care about were the intruder's intentions if he strategically took the phones and then stood in my room staring at me.
I'm not sure why, but I returned to work within a few days. I thought it'd be good to keep my mind occupied, but I remember just sitting at my desk sobbing and spending more time hiding in the washroom than actually working.
For months I couldn't be left alone. I had an escort walk me into work and out to my car after work. If I needed groceries or had to run errands, someone had to come with me. At the ripe age of 26, I was sleeping with the hall light on, with the door open in the bedroom next to my mom and step-dad. I could barely sleep. Staying awake was torturous because I would replay everything over and over in my head. Falling asleep was just as terrifying because the black would uncontrolably force my mind to envision things even more clearly and I would resort to opening my eyes again. Repeat, repeat.
Several months later, I ended up moving to Edmonton with my boyfriend at the time. Sleeping got better because he was there to protect me.
10 years have passed and I still have ups and downs with sleeping and the replaying of events. Living in a condo helps; I feel much safer being in a high rise. If, for whatever reason, I stay over at someone's house (even my parent's where I feel so comfortable), I have the worst sleeps. Being on ground floors terrify me. There are times where I "see" people in my room. I'll wake up, pulse racing, body shaking, only to realize it's just my paranoia and imagination. Again.
To this day, if I see a man wearing a black hoodie with the hood portion over his head, my mind replays this incident in a split second and my heart begins to race.
I credit my cat, Bermuda, with saving my life, because that's literally what he did. If he hadn't been there to make noises and movements to wake me, I'm not sure what would have happened to me.
I tell this story to anyone who who says they hate cats, because fair enough if you're a dog person, but you cannot deny the ability of any animal's cabability to protect their owner and loved ones
I am thankful for Bermuda each and every day. He soared off to heaven last June, and I was there to send him a final goodbye as he took his last breath. He will always be a special part of my life, and I miss that little furball so, so much.
Thanks for reading,