Vanishing Act

I’ve been a stranger to my own blog lately, and I’ve missed it. Every day I wake with the intention of writing, but I have been so busy editing that I never seem to find the time. Looking at my site, I see people have still been visiting occasionally, probably wondering where in the world I went. That, coupled with the Daily Post Prompt (disappear) inspired this weird, slightly disconcerting post. Have no fear though. I am still alive and well, just busy. I hope to get a better balance soon. I am a work in progress—as is this freelance gig.

Vanishing Act
She felt herself slipping, drifting away. Not all at once. No, it was a gradual process. At first, she was just busy. There was always something that needed to be done, someplace she had to be, someone depending on her. And she wanted to get it all done, she wanted to be there, she wanted to provide for those who needed her.

It was too much though. She couldn’t pull it off in the long run. She was exhausted, and day by day, she lost her will, her drive, her spark. Her energy was quickly being depleted. She was shriveling up—into a ball, a deflated balloon, a shell of her once vibrant self.

She locked herself away. She tried to sleep, but she couldn’t. She was too tired. The room spun. She tried to plan a comeback, a revival, a rebirth… but she simply couldn’t think straight. Her mind was in a fog. She tried to remember what she had done before, where she had gone, those she loved…but her mind was a blank. She didn’t know any of that.

The only thing she knew now was that she knew nothing. She didn’t know who she was anymore. She had simply disappeared—from the world, from those she loved, and even from herself.

Daily Post Prompt: Disappear

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Facing Intimidation

It was not some faceless and unknown boogeyman wreaking havoc on my life. I knew who my stalker was, which on one hand made the situation easier to handle while on the other added a whole new element of fear. The man harassing me, leaving me nasty notes, walking my property at night, and entering my home uninvited was a neighbor. At one point, I had even considered him a family friend. Of course, it did take me a bit to figure that out. I mean . . . who wants to suspect a “friend” of turning your world upside down? Who wants to believe a “friend” is capable of turning on you that way, of scaring you? Though I was lucky to finally figure out who was terrorizing me, it was disconcerting to wonder how long it had been going on before I was even aware, of how I could have been so blind. What had I overlooked? Why hadn’t I been suspicious of his character all along? Even now, years later, I can’t answer those questions, and that makes me wonder if such a thing could happen again. I suppose that is just one more reason why I remain a tad reclusive. It was one more event in my life that proved to me there is danger in trusting others.

Though I have a solid respect for those who serve in roles of law enforcement, being the victim of stalking gave me conflicting opinions there too. I can’t say enough about the officers who showed up at my house time and time again to take statements and ensure that my mom and I were momentarily safe. It was comforting to be told they would patrol the neighborhood whenever they were in the area. Several times I came home to find a note on my door stating that they had been by, walked the property, and noted all seemed to be in order. The officers really went above and beyond to make me feel protected. The detective assigned to the case was a different story. Logically, I know his hands were somewhat tied, that he could only do so much. The department didn’t have the budget or manpower to run DNA tests and such, at least not quickly. His words were scary though. Perhaps he was too blunt when he told me that until I was raped or murdered, I was a low-priority case. Now, I know he wasn’t telling me that to be mean or rude; he was simply being honest. He didn’t want to give me false hope. He didn’t want me to let my guard down. He wanted me to know I was in for a long battle.

I was one of the fortunate ones. After a year of turmoil, my situation just simply disappeared. During that year, I had done everything in my power to seek justice. I contacted the National Center for Victims of Crime to seek help and resources. I called the police each time there was an incident. I regularly called the detective to keep him interested. I got legal representation. I remained hyper-vigilant and documented everything. I pushed for my stalker to be arrested, even though I knew there wasn’t enough concrete evidence to hold him just yet. I wanted him to know that I refused to be vulnerable or intimidated, that I would fight back. Eventually, he backed off. He even moved a few hours away. I’ve seen him twice since then. The first time I was walking my dog and saw him parked at the end of the street (which, of course, scared the crap out of me and once again made me question my safety). The other time we passed by each other at the mall, both of us with our families.

With time, the sense of fear and powerlessness faded, though I still remain extremely vigilant; I am always aware of my surroundings, always looking over my shoulder in public and such. For those of you going through similar situations, I hope your situations resolve sooner rather than later, and without significant harm coming to you. I urge you to get all of the assistance you can. Call the police for every incident, contact the National Center for Victims of Crime, get a victim’s advocate, take out protective orders, etc. It is hard enough to be a victim; at least, be one who fights back. I wish you all the best.

Daily Post Prompt: Faceless

 

In the face of Hurricane Irma

Sadly, hurricanes and the damage they can do are currently a hot topic of discussion.  The poor residents of Houston, TX are, and will be for quite some time to come, trying to recover and rebuild after the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  Now, residents of the East Coast are watching with trepidation trying to determine if they are in the path of Hurricane Irma.

 

Though I no longer live in an area affected by hurricanes, I still have family and friends all along the East Coast from Florida to Maine, and I am praying that they will all remain safe.  I am praying that Irma’s impact will be minimal.

 

Focusing on this season’s hurricanes has me reflecting on those of past years.  Thankfully, though the state of Virginia has weathered many bad storms, none of them ever left me or my loved ones without a home.  That being said, I do remember a few of them.

 

Hurricane Gloria came thru our area in September of 1985 and to this day I wonder what possessed my mom to let me sleep in the barn with my pony.  Yes, I was concerned that Crazy 8 would be scared during the storm and I wanted to keep him calm; however, I was only 14 at the time.  I teasingly asked my mom, “What kind of parent lets their teenage daughter sleep in the barn during a hurricane? Who was concerned for my safety?”  She does apply a certain sort of logic when she tells me I was probably safer in the barn than she and my siblings were in the house.  The barn was relatively new and made of stucco (cement).  If any building could withstand hurricane force winds, it would most likely be a stucco barn.  I suppose if it flooded, there was always the hayloft (at least for me).

 

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd hit the area.  Again, I survived unscathed, but I vividly remember watching the news reports of the massive flooding in nearby Franklin, VA.  It was the worst flooding Franklin had seen in a century, and it took years to recover. The flooding of the Blackwater River also impacted the area where my sister and her husband lived.  Though it did not reach their home, nearby streets were under water.  

 

The hurricane which personally impacted me the most was Hurricane Isabel in 2003.  My mom and I stayed home rather than evacuating because we had no way to transport our pony anywhere else and we did not want to leave him behind.  I don’t remember us getting a lot of rain.  The day the storm hit seemed eerily calm though there must have been a good deal of wind to hit our area.  Around 9am, we watched the first tree fall.  It was a rather small one and it fell right beside my hunk of junk car.  I remember teasing my mom that the tree couldn’t even do me the favor of falling on my car so that I could get some insurance money to put towards a new one.  In retrospect, that joke wasn’t funny.  So many people near us experienced significant damage.  We were fortunate.  The hurricane left our side of the street alone, but wreaked havoc on the neighbors across the street.  When it had passed us by and it was safe to go out and inspect the damage, my mom and I went to check on our neighbors.  Their backyard full of pine trees was completely decimated.  It looked like a war zone with downed trees criss-crossing their property. All we could do was stand with our backs up against the rear of their house and stare in amazement.  They were so incredibly fortunate that none of those trees landed on their home.  The only impact Isabel had on my mom and I is that it knocked out phone and power lines and left us relying on a generator for the next twelve days.  The biggest hardship was that as our home was more or less in the country and had well water rather than city water and sewage, we needed power to run the pump.  That meant for twelve days we could not shower or flush toilets.  We had prepared somewhat by filling the tub and buckets with water prior to the storm.  We used that for flushing toilets.  Every few days, we went to a friend’s house nearby to shower and fill up coolers with water for the pony.  We did have a ton of debris to clean up, but we were exceptionally lucky, which leads me back to the present.

 

My few encounters with hurricanes and tropical storms were nothing compared to what Houston recently experienced.  I simply cannot begin to imagine the hardships they are facing.  The one good thing to come from the destruction is that so many people set aside their differences and gave of themselves to care for strangers in need.  Our country has been riddled with so much negativity and division in recent months, but when push comes to shove, we pull together.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could learn to recognize that sooner or later everyone needs a helping hand and that it should not require such blatant need to make us step up to the plate?