Last week I went through an extremely terrifying experience – my home was broken into while I was in my kitchen. A man, who lives about 6 doors down from me, was trying to escape from the police. He saw an opening to get away and it led him to my back door. My home was in the way of him getting from point A to point B in his escape plan. He kept throwing himself against my back door, working harder and harder to bust through. At first, I hid behind a wall in my kitchen so he could not see me. I didn’t know if he had a weapon or wanted to take a hostage. All I knew was I was in danger and my adrenaline went through the roof. Then I realized he was not going to stop until he got in. I ran for the front door and got my inner door open, then reached to unlock the security door. He got to my front door at that very second and we were standing shoulder to shoulder. He yelled over and over again to open the door as he tried turning the door-knob. I told him to just turn the lock. The next thing I heard was a loud shot and he went down onto my floor, screaming in pain. The police had come through my back door and shot him with a tazer gun. The good news is he is in jail now; the bad news is that I feel like a switch inside me has been flipped and now I am deeply afraid and unsettled.
This is THE most terrifying experience of my life and I am shaken to my core. As a single, disabled woman who lives alone, I have never felt so vulnerable as when I saw this man doing his best to break into my home, my sanctuary from the world. I am not physically strong and most people could knock me down with a light push. I was horrified at the thought of how easily this man could hurt me. So many thoughts rushed into my head in that moment that I could not think clearly. The adrenaline was pumping and when this was happening it was a surreal mix of everything happening so fast and yet feeling like things are going in slow motion.
Now, I am left with the aftermath of feeling so thankful that he did not touch me or try to harm me physically, yet feeling such emotional distress over the terror and trauma that I felt during the experience. I have trouble sleeping at night. I can’t focus my thoughts or make decisions, even about the simplest things like what to have for breakfast. I have fear that he or his cohorts will come back. I am angry that he flipped this switch inside me and I want things to go back to the way they were before he so rudely disrupted my life.
At tough times like this, one of my ways of coping is to paint a mandala. The mandala process allows me to get quiet with myself and gain some insight. I sat down the other day and meditated on the question: “how do I release the fear and trauma from the break-in?” During my meditation, I saw a very clear picture of tears falling on hearts that were wrapped in blankets. My first reaction to that image was that it was so sweet and comforting. My second reaction was “oh no, does that mean I have to cry?” I hate crying, especially over anything to do with me or my pain. I have an aversion to crying. I know that sounds unhealthy and, most likely, it is unhealthy. It’s like that movie with Tom Hanks, who plays the drunk baseball coach who is coaching the women’s baseball team. He comes down hard on one of the women when she misses a ball and she starts to cry. He says to her “Are you crying? There’s no crying in baseball. There’s no crying in baseball!” That’s how I feel: there’s no crying over pain in my life. I can cry over pain in other people or pain in the world, but not over myself. I envy people who can cry so easily over the pain in their own life. What a relief for them to get out all that emotion.
Somewhere deep inside me I feel that if I start crying over the pain in my life, I will never stop. I’ve buried so much sadness and loss and anger through 40+ years of living with severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, that I fear the tears will never stop flowing once the floodgates open. This happened one time when a lot of emotion came up at an arthritis conference and I literally could not stop crying. I hated that feeling of loss of control.
Yet, the message of the mandala is clear. The fastest way to release the trauma and fear that got locked into my mind and body that day is to cry – to let the tears flow. They will cleanse, purify and release the intense emotion of that day. The other message of the mandala is that I need to create a safe, loving environment in which to let the tears flow. The hearts are wrapped / snuggled in blankets, which represent security and comfort. Hearts in a mandala speak of love, courage, and sorrow so I can see where I need gather the courage to feel my sorrow and love myself for the act of crying and releasing all that needs to be released. To cry or not to cry is the question I must answer. I guess I better get a large box of Kleenex for the day I let all the tears flow.