So last night I had my first real paranoid freak-out about being here alone. A series of probably unconnected events: strangers who knew my name calling out to me from a car, an SUV that seemed like it was slowly following me down the street, some random guy staring at me, all came together in my brain and nearly put me into full-blown panic. I got home, locked my doors and put the chain on, and sat in my little hallway, shaking and picturing someone climbing over my fence and busting through my window in the middle of the night.
I did the smart thing: I called my BFF, B, and he talked me down. I've always been cautious and aware of being a single woman, vulnerable to attack. When I walk after dark I keep my eyes open; I try to notice strangers who hang around a lot and I try to vary my routines. I know bad things can happen. But, I don't live with crushing panic all the time, no one could. Still, last night it was just the perfect storm of little things that blew up in my brain to make me afraid, and I hated it.
I will go home tonight and lock my doors again, and I will try not to feel afraid. But, I will feel better knowing I have a knife under my mattress now, even if I could not imagine ever using it.