It’s been a rough week here on the Farm. A dark cloud hangs above our home, and the Man and I have slogged through the past few days on autopilot with shock, disappointment, sadness and a great deal of anger in our hearts. While my intent for this blog has always been to write and share our lives in order to uplift and entertain the masses, this particular tale will fall far short of that goal. It is deeply personal and not easily shared, and describes one of the darkest periods of my life to date. I apologize in advance for not offering up my usual, but I feel the need to put down on paper my thoughts and feelings. Simply put, I need to vent. Perhaps it will help me process what has happened, and maybe my words will reach those that need to hear it. Maybe they can understand what they have done, and how it has effected the Man and myself, as well as those within the small circle of friends we have given our trust to. The tale actually begins not last week, but nine years ago.
During the winter of 2008, the Farm was broken into one Saturday morning while we were away for the day. The thieves used a sledgehammer to batter down a door that leads from the small barn into the house, and proceeded to ransack the Farm of anything valuable that they could load into their van in a short amount of time. When I returned home a few hours later, I didn’t notice that the door to the barn was hanging oddly, as I don’t normally look in that direction when I walk into the house. What I did notice first was that the television that we had hanging on the wall was no longer there, leaving only a trail of wires hanging down towards the floor. The electronics that those wires usually plug into were also missing, leaving the shelves eerily empty. As the shock of what had happened settled in, I remember being frozen where I stood, and time truly stood still. While staring in disbelief at the dark spots on the shelves where the various electronic boxes once sat, my first irrational thought was that we really needed to dust more often. When I fully understood what had happened, I quickly ran from room to room, taking initial stock in what was missing. The list of what was taken was a long one, but the most heartbreaking loss was my laptop, which contained 7 years worth of pictures that were irreplaceable. Pictures of vacations that the Man and I had taken together, our lives at the Farm in the early years, all puppy and kitten pictures. All just gone, never to be seen again. The police were called, and reports were filed. Weeks later, our hopes were lifted when we were told a confession had been given, only to be dashed when we learn that the charges had been dropped in order for our thief to cooperate in catching a bigger thief. None of our belongings were ever found and the case was closed. When the dust finally settled, we had been victimized twice. Once by the spineless coward who bashed in our door with my own sledgehammer, and the second time by the system that was supposed to protect us. There was nothing left to be done, except mourn our losses, put it all behind us, and move on with life. That certainly was our intention, and although the Man seemed to be having better luck at putting it all behind him, I found myself struggling a great deal to “let it go”. I couldn’t, and the following months, and years, proved to be the hardest ones of my life.
It was difficult at the time to describe what was happening to me, and still now, after all these years, I find myself struggling to find the words. As I sit here trying to tell the story, I feel the anxiety and shortness of breath creeping in. I can feel the familiar fingers of panic reaching for me as it did back then. I remember not being able to leave the house, even for short trips into town to do errands. The sheer panic and fear that someone was again entering my home while I was gone was crippling, and more than once I would abandon a shopping cart to race home convinced that I would find that the door was once again hanging by one hinge, and my belongings missing. I became a complete shut in, afraid to leave and trusting no one. Friendships deteriorated and disappeared. Every day began and ended with immobilizing fear and tears. As I slipped deeper into a dark depression, thoughts of despair and self harm were my constant companion, and often times suicide was the most welcome solution to making the anguish and pain go away. The Man stood by me, and there were a handful of times that it was only His never wavering love, support and quiet presence that kept me from listening to the ever present thoughts of ending the pain once and for all. The dark depression and anxiety lasted for years, but with the help of antidepressants, I eventually started having more good days than bad. I was able to travel north to visit my parents, or enjoy time away with the Man without the constant fear that the Farm, and the things that I held dear, might be in danger again. As the the anxiety continued to subside, I was able to interact with others again, and our circle of friends began to grow once more. Where I once had anger and distrust towards everyone, I started to see the glimmer of good in others once again. Although still very protective of the Farm, as well as the life that the Man and I have built here, a small circle of people that we dared to trust as friends once again became part of the daily life and routine. I soon reached a point that I no longer felt as though I needed the antidepressants to get through the day, and after weening myself off them, I felt better than I had in years. They had served their purpose for a time when I needed them, but the clouds had mostly lifted, and life was moving on. I was “letting it go”, but it was not gone, and certainly not forgotten.
Life on the Farm had returned to normal, and then some, and my days were full from sun up till sun down. As each year passed, the holidays became a source of excitement and joy again, and this year was no exception. We have continued to welcome others into our home as members of our extended family, with a level of trust given that I never thought would be possible again. On occasion, I will have a flashback of nine years ago with a mild dose of anxiety over the safety of the Farm from the outside world, but never have I worried about an attack from within. That all ended just over a week ago, when we realized that a few items of great sentimental value was missing. They had been stored in a secure place that only a handful of people were aware of, and were the only things missing. Like madmen, the Man and I scoured the Farm, hoping against all odds that maybe, just maybe, we had misplaced them ourselves. When we finally had to admit that they were indeed missing, we then tried to figure out the “how”, and most importantly the “why”, behind it all. After a few days of head scratching, theories, investigating, and more searches just in case we had missed some nook or cranny, we came to the one remaining conclusion that shook us to the core. Not only was something of great value and importance taken from us again, it had been done by someone we trusted, and who knew full well the attachment of the items they had taken. To say that the emotions that we’ve dealt with this time around are similar to those we faced nine years ago could not be farther from the truth. Sure, the basics are the same. Shock, immense anger, the intense feelings of violation, being reminded that there truly is evil in this world. The one ingredient that is new this time around is the profound feelings of betrayal that we feel. I’ve sat here at the screen for twenty minutes trying to find the words to describe what I feel in my soul, but they do not come. Nothing can describe the gut wrenching feeling that comes from the blind sided betrayal of someone whom you have given all of your trust and love, that you have supported in any way possible in all times of need. Have no doubt, we deeply mourn the loss of what was stolen from us, as they are truly irreplaceable, but the betrayal of someone you once counted as a trusted friend is a loss like no other.
I am not sure how long the dark cloud will linger. I feel those cold fingers of depression reaching for me again, and the anxiety about the safety of my own home is slowly rising within me. I would like to think that having gone through this before, I should be better equipped to handle it this time around. Someone once said something about we are “the sum of our experiences”, and this particular experience has left a mark on my soul that will certainly shape and influence who I will be in the future. For the most part, I did eventually “let go” of what happened nine years ago, but I fear that this time I won’t be quite as lucky, and neither will the Man. Oh, I know that most things will eventually return to normal, or as close to it as possible. The Farm doesn’t run itself, and it’s allowance for personal time lasts about as long as the hay bins stay full. If there was to be any good come from this, it would be a reminder to the Man and myself that no matter what gets thrown at us, we have each other to lean on, to support each other when one is down, and that in the end, the trust that we share is the only trust that truly matters. Ours is a trust that cannot be betrayed or taken away by a thief wielding a sledgehammer, or by a coward with sticky fingers and the inability to feel remorse. We may someday open our doors again to others, but if you happen to be one of them, don’t expect to be getting a house key any time soon.