Last week our home was broken into. The thief/ves stole all our electronics (laptops, tablet), a watch Heather’s father gave me, and Heather’s grandmother’s pearls. Oh, and my gym bag. (again) Our dog was safe and sound. There was no damage to the house. As far as burglaries go, our robber/s were pretty courteous. Cleanup was minimal; the only lasting impressions being dust used for taking fingerprints (almost impossible to remove–they don’t tell you this on CSI) and overwhelming feelings of vulnerability and violation. The scariest part: they left the kitchen carving knife on the dresser in the master bedroom as if to say, “We could have killed you if we wanted to. Don’t worry, be happy.”
My last blog post dealt with the rear of our car being smashed in. This latest event was far more intimate and expensive. I had taken the last week off of work as a little staycation in which to relax, catch up on some reading, play some games, and decompress from an overwhelming Spring. Instead, I spent it dealing with insurance agents, reporting serial numbers to manufacturers, looking into ways of tracking down stolen technology, and being obsessed with home security. I found it to be just as stressful as April, in which I helped execute a 1600 person 3-day conference, and not as rewarding. Not only was I violated and stolen from, I was robbed of my vacation.
I was not expecting so many conflicting emotions. All that was taken from us was “stuff.” (not something I am a fan of) But it was more than physical objects; a sense of security and safety was stolen too. Photographs and documents are gone that will be impossible to replace. I am struggling with letting these things go, refusing to believe I will never get them back. Why can’t I be the man willing to let go of material possessions–why am I deeply injured by their loss?
Additionally, my mind has been obsessed with “what if”.
“What if we had been home?”
“What if they had killed the dog?”
“What if they steal our identity?”
“What if they come back?”
I don’t like leaving my house to run an errand only to have my mind occupied with whether or not our house is being broken into again. It’s maddening and I don’t know how to make it stop. All I want to do is sit in a corner with a shotgun, making sure intruders stay out. I know this is impossible. Heather and I have lives to live; friends to see, birthdays to attend, places to visit. I feel held hostage by an obsession to protect what is mine. I feel powerless to lift this dead weight in the pit of my gut when I lock my front door.
Finally, I have been indulging in feelings of revenge and vigilante justice. This is not me. I believe in a fair and just democratic system and rule of law. I want our penal system reformed to be more rehabilitative rather than punitive. I want to be compassionate and enlightened in how I respond to people who hurt me. I want to turn the other cheek; I want to forgive.
Yet, I put a knife on my nightstand. I’ve daydreamed of catching the criminals and making them pay. I’ve fantasied about finding them and hurting them badly. More than once I reveled in cutting off their hands in some reenactment of Babylonian law. This event brought out dark desires that sicken me as much as they excite me. I never thought I would crave to hurt a human being so viciously and be willing to reject all my high ideals and humanity to make up for $3000 worth of stolen “things.”
I am not the first person to go through this. I know my emotions will fade and life will return to normal. I have learned to be more mindful of my family’s safety and security. I hope to accept the loss as a lesson in humility, letting go and overall forgiveness. Yet, I don’t know how long the feelings of bitterness and revenge will last. I don’t know how long I will sleep with a knife by my bedside and wake in the middle of the night wondering if somebody is walking uninvited in my home.
I hope not long.