I needed to walk into the village today to go to the bank and shop for food. I was nervous, because of when a man tried to mug me about ten days ago. He didn’t succeed, but the incident was scary and left residual aftershock. I’ve tried to replace paranoia with strength of mind. Some days I succeed, today I didn’t. As I was locking the front door today I saw a thin young man walking along the road slowly. He looked up at the house and moved on, but stopped a ways down the road.
There have been scores of break-ins on this road (including one in this house) in the past six months. A man was threatened with a gun getting out of his car. More fodder for paranoia. More reason to build strength of mind.
I felt uneasy about the young black man and didn’t know if it was paranoia based on racial profiling or the same gut feel that made me uneasy about the man who mugged me when I initially passed him on the beach. That time it wasn’t paranoia.
I waited outside my front door to see if the thin young man would move on. He didn’t. I went back inside and watched him through my window. He glanced back this way a couple of times. I needed to go, and to pass him on my way to the village. Didn’t know what to do. I felt very vulnerable and attackable and decidedly lacking in requisite strength of mind. Not to mention muscle.
But I had to go so I did. He looked up as I approached him, and moved towards me – in the direction of where I’m staying. I stopped to watch him. As he passed the house he looked up and paused. Then he looked at my neighbour’s car parked on the pavement.
He glanced back, saw me and broke into a run. Soon he was out of sight.
I went into the village, did my banking and shopping and walked back with even less strength of mind. Amazing how fertile your imagination can get when fed by fear. I gave up trying to conquer my fear and went into the police station to ask if someone could drive me home.
Oh. I came out feeling even more vulnerable. Sometimes when you need something and it’s not forthcoming, you kind of have to surrender. So surrender I did, though not with particularly good grace at first. “Fine then”, I muttered “I’ll walk. ”
Then it occurred to me to call on my father. “Hey Dad,” I said, “please look out for me.” I often feel he’s around doing just exactly that. It made me feel considerably safer. Then I said to myself “if somebody tries to attack me I’ll attack him back”. I enjoyed the sense of power that gave me. Enjoyed the idea of throwing my shopping bags at somebody and yelling. Which is what I did for real when the man tried to attack me. Spent some time playing around with that image, and a funny thing happened.
My paranoia disappeared. Before I knew it I was home.
My landlady told me when I returned that she sometimes leaves bread out by the post box, which is on the street. Maybe the thin young man was hanging around for that.