Don’t Open That Door!

How many scary movies, thrillers, and mysteries have we seen where we find ourselves saying out loud, “don’t open that door!” And then joke because of course, they were always going to open that door, answer the phone, or look under the bed.  Often after we scolded the protagonist, we would add,  “I would never do that!” And then real life happened, and I Opened The Door. 

This past Monday morning at 7:15 with the sun shining brightly, someone was actively trying to break into our house.

I heard a noise and was walking to look out the window, thinking that something was going on across the street. As I was walking towards the window, my dog bolted past me to the locked deck door, where I saw the screen was open and a man was peering in the bedroom window where my husband was sleeping.

It was as if something went primal in me. Without any thought, I unlocked and opened the deck door, went out, and started screaming at this robber. I was yelling, “Who the f**k are you, and What the f**k do you think you’re doing?” I was wild and aggressive, approaching him with so much anger and fear that I didn’t even realize what I was doing. This was not smart for So many reasons.  

First, I opened a locked door and entered a small space where this perpetrator was leering into my house after trying to get into the door. As I’m yelling, I put myself within six inches of him, with the door wide open behind me.  I’m not even 5 feet tall and the only thing I had on at the time was a sleep shirt. No shoes on the snowy, icy deck just me in a t-shirt yelling and becoming more verbally aggressive. I must have scared him because he turned around and started going back down the stairs. He said something to me, and I mom-scolded him, wagging my finger yelling “I’m calling 911.”

I went into the house and called 911. Almost immediately two squad cars pulled up in front of my house. The person was standing there taking off his jacket and dropping all his stolen goods as the police pulled up. Apparently, this person had gone on a robbery spree at some senior-living apartments and the police were down the street when I called 911. I watched him get arrested and taken away.

One of the police officers checked our house and cars and made sure we were ok. I told him how I confronted him, how I just didn’t even think about calling 911 at the moment when I saw him on the deck. I told him that I was so shocked because I acted exactly the opposite of what we are all taught to do and I understood how much danger I put myself and my family in. 

The officer listened and then sternly said to me, “Don’t ever do that again. This guy is so high he doesn’t even know what planet he’s on and that could have turned out very badly.”

I understand that he could have had a weapon, or he could have easily moved me aside and walk through the door that was now wide open which would have put us in a potentially very dangerous situation. I’m so grateful and relieved things turned out okay.

So whoa! The after-effects of that event has been a roller coaster of processing. First, the physical and emotional dump of adrenaline was exhausting and confusing. I made sure on Monday to take lots of walks around my neighborhood so I understood that it’s a safe place to live and that this is the first incident we’ve had in 22 years.

I reached out to people to get some good support. I needed to tell people what happened; to talk about it. I knew my PTSD triggers were activated but didn’t quite know which symptoms or memories were going to come oozing out.

And ooze out they did. Every fear of being hurt again was front and center on Tuesday and Wednesday. That feeling of not being safe anywhere in the world was right there; front and center. My hyper-vigilance, fear, nightmares, anxiety were all front and center for two days after the event. 

Today is three days after the incident. I’ve settled down, we installed 4 more security lights, I’ve received wonderful help processing this with my therapist who had some good ideas and grounding tools for symptom management, and I have wonderful support from friends and family. 

Unlike those first twenty years where there was no support and no resolution, this incident had both. Although still feeling violated, I do hope that person gets the help he needs and perhaps chooses a life of no drugs and no crime.

For me, I learned that I had the capacity to fight-not just flee or freeze. I could never fight any of my perpetrators in my past. It wasn’t an option-ever! It appears now I can and will. There were many lessons on Monday morning, and the ability to fight for my safety was one of the takeaways. But by far,  the biggest lesson I learned is, Don’t Open That Door!!!

photo image: Pexels

57 thoughts on “Don’t Open That Door!

  1. Sara

    I’m sure it’s been rattling to not only process this event but to also feel it igniting things from the past. I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing your experiences here, and I wish you healing strength as you continue to process. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sara

    Wow! What a terrifying experience. I am relieved to read that it ended safely and that you have the support you need to face the aftermath of such a scary ordeal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shreeya Khanal

    Holy shit. Sounds like you fight response from nervous system got activated upon seeing the threat first time. I was thinking what would I do if I was in that scenario. I’d probably freeze idk. Or flee.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi lovely lady. So sorry this happened to you. I’ve had a few experiences with break-ins (well, I live in South Africa where it’s so common it doesn’t even get reported sometimes), and I definitely know that we don’t always react in the ways we thought we would, or that don’t even seem logical. I’m glad you’re okay and have the support you need. Take care of you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ibikenyc

    I’m so glad you’re okay! Thank God!

    Also that the police just happened to be right there, and the guy got taken away.

    (I am here via Linda Lee / Lady Quixote)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My goodness! I’m glad you’re safe. I was going to comment that the person must’ve been on drugs, so I’m glad (not the best word) to see that was the case. I mean who else tries to rob someone at 7a??? Again, I’m glad you’re okay, physically and emotionally.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes-Thank you so much for reminding me of Waking the Tiger. I actually did that response after the adrenaline dump. I definitely did the unexpected and Im pretty sure confused and scared the crap out out of that person. Thank you for your support-and yes, lesson learned but I have to tell you it feels really good to know that I woke the tiger. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Eek! On the one hand, yeah, don’t open that door! On the other hand, I’m reminded of all those Pete Walker C-PTSD books wherein he talks about how prey animals go into survival mode, do something dramatic for their response, then go tremble and shake afterwards to regulate their nervous system. And, C-PTSD survivors were never allowed that ‘fight, then tremble, shake and clear out the nervous system.’ They are never allowed to get a resolution to those trauma feelings, so they lodge in the body forever. Way to have your ‘walking the tiger’ moment! Badass, in a “do as you say, not as you did way.” But, still, badass!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Glad you are all ok. I can see how this would be triggering and I’m glad you are doing some self care. I love you. ( And I was kinda going “you go girl” for a moment, until I realized the safety issue also. ) Sending good thoughts as you continue to process this.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My blogger friend, Bruce Cooper, left a comment on my repost of this blog, asking me to tell you that he tried to like this post, but WP wouldn’t register his like. He even tried 3 different browsers, he said, which usually resolves that issue, but his like still would not post.

    I have been having lots of problems with my likes not showing up on people’s posts, and other bloggers I know are having the same issue. I don’t know what’s going on with WP, but I imagine that you probably got a lot more likes here than are showing up.

    I’m still amazed by this story. Wow. Thank you for sharing this, that took a ton of courage, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m so sorry that happened to you, Alexis! I’m very grateful that neither you nor your family was harmed. The truth is none of us know what we would do in a situation until we’re actually in that situation. You have learned. You are smart and you are strong!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow! Well at least no one got hurt! I always scream at people in the movies but I think in real life I would freeze up and probably do something stupid too 😂😂. But thank God nothing too drastic happened to you

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Wow, wow, wow. Just… WOW! What you did actually makes sense to me, after everything you’ve gone through in your life. Even though, you’re right, it wasn’t a safe thing to do. But, wow… you are AWESOME!!

    I especially love the way you have worked through this over these past three days. I hope you don’t mind, I just had to reblog this. ❤❤❤

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Pingback: Don’t Open That Door! — Untangled – A Blog About Healing From PTSD

  15. I think it’s easy for any of us to predict how we would react, but unless we’ve trained to the extent that a taught response becomes automatic, the brain is going to do what it decides it needs to survive.

    Liked by 4 people

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