Friday, August 27, 2010


Last night, just after midnight, I was woken up by some kind of violent crime happening outside my window somewhere. A very angry man yelling and swearing, a second voice terrified, crying, and pleading. Couldn't tell if it was a woman or a child or teen. It took me a second to realize what was happening, and I jumped out of bed to get the cell phone from the kitchen, turn it on, and make sure my own doors were locked. The yelling and swearing, followed by pleading and crying, happened again just as the 911 dispatch picked up. I was just really waking up while trying to talk to the dispatch, trying to remember where I live, figure out what direction the voices came from, and make guesses as to which direction they were heading. At the same time, I was freaking out because Matt is not here, the landlords are away on vacation, the dog is sound asleep, my property is surrounded by scrub woods and industrial factories, matt is not here matt is not here matt is not here, and pictures of what could be happening to the person crying were flashing through my mind - not helping. Dispatch sent out officers, and kindly offered to have one come to my house, but I declined. I didn't hear any more voices, and police cruisers went back and forth a few times over the next hour, but who knows what happened.

Taking the dog out this morning,  I kept scanning the woods on the hill to see if anything looked - wrong. I am definitely still wigged out about it today. I noticed earlier that when I wrote a little snippet, I felt calmer. That, and acknowledging that being an "auditory witness" to violence is still upsetting, even if you are physically safe and never in any danger at all.

I was up for awhile after it happened. Freaked out. Trauma triggered, obviously - having to call 911, someone yelling for help - way too close to home. I've never heard violence happening, or that kind of fear in someone's voice before, and though I knew I was likely quite safe inside my house, I just needed to tell someone what happened. My landords went on vacation and turned off the house wireless, so no internet. I couldn't call Matt (not by phone, anyway), I didn't want to wake up any of my friends with young children. I couldn't think of anyone in a more reasonable time zone to call. I did finally think to text my local widow friend, just in case she had insomnia, and thankfully (for me), she did, and offered to come over. (thank you C.) By that time, I'd calmed down some, and felt able to go back to bed and at least try to rest.

The worst part was sitting there, stunned, trying to find something to do, something calming for me, and, however possible, helpful for the people involved. I went for the things I used to do... before, but they no longer feel relevant. I couldn't tell myself "everything is okay," or even "everything will be okay," because it isn't and it won't be. I couldn't send out thoughts to the victim like: "you are safe, god or something has you," because - No. She isn't. She isn't safe. God or love or anything will not keep her, or me, or matt, or anyone "safe," and some things are not going to be "okay." Shit things are GOING to happen. Can happen. Will happen. Could happen. Just because I believe there is a god, or an energy, or a kindness operating in ways I don't always see, does not mean everything will be okay. There is no anchor. What god or love or kindness might do is to stand there beside you while you are getting the very shit beaten out of your soul. And it won't be enough, because you are still going to be beaten.

And then, because it was late, and I was over-tired, and stressed out, I started feeling bad that I was focused on myself at all, and not concentrating all of my energy on sending out love to both of the voices I heard, waves and waves of love and whatever goodness might be lurking around. I don't even believe it, that sending love would change anything that is going to be. Sending love is all I still have, and I need it to be helpful, I need it to still change something. Anything. It has to be better than filling my mind with all sorts of horrible scenes playing out, or rehearsing all the ways I no longer believe.

I think this is the hardest, deepest - loss? just - thing? for me - I used to have such a deep faith and trust in life, and in my own core. Not that massively difficult things wouldn't ever happen, but that goodness would always be there. The context of beauty and goodness and love would always be there. I leaned on it and trusted it. Me and god had a sweet, hard-earned, collaboration. Things would always be okay, things would always go more deeply beautiful, even when events were rocky and difficult. I lived it for 38 years, 9 months, and 12 days; I saw things become more beautiful than I could have ever created on my own. I trusted it. I so much need all of that to still be true, and I don't see how it can.

I don't think I've become pessimistic - I hope not, and if I have tilted that way, I hope it doesn't stick - but I just, I struggle so deeply with how the faith I had relates to this reality, and where do I go when I am lost and needing solid ground, and there isn't any anymore. God, my friend, if you are reading this, I need more help than you think.


  1. Hi Megan, What a scary thing to be a part of. You are so right, we don't have to have visually witnessed the violence to be traumatized by it. In fact, by hearing, yet not seeing what is actually happening, you are likely to be further traumatized by the unknown factor. You seemed to have handled it well though. That late night not having anyone to call factor is a tough one. During this past year I have had many nights when I could have benefitted from speaking of my feelings outloud, but I never give myself permission to call anyone. I'm not sure what it will take, but it's something I need to change.

    Listen, I am not in your area, but I am someone who is up late, all the time. If you need someone as your back up late night listener, just email me and I can give you my number.

    Do something calming tonight, like burning incense or lighting candles. I think it might help to have some kind of ritual to regain a sense of peace in you home.

  2. thank you dan. Sitting in the front room last night, watching police cars, and listening for more distress calls, I was cursing my landlords for turning off the internet, thinking - Dan's still up. If I had (**%() internet access right now, I could tell Dan. I am squished in the car with the dog right now, pirating internet access, so will wait til tomorrow to email you to take you up on your offer. I also tend to not give myself permission to call anyone, but knowing there is someone who would be alright with a call, helps -

    I am definitely feeling the need for something soothing tonight; I hadn't really recognized how jangled I am by last night. I'd forgotten I was also newly concerned about walking the dog after dark, and now that is getting on to dark, well, he will have an early walk tonight. And then, some serious incense and candles and prayer beads and gentleness to self.

    thanks dan.

  3. Hi megan,
    I can give you my phone number too. Don't ever be shy about calling me at any hour. I usually keep the phone by my bed over night in case my mom might need to call, or a friend out in Oregon who sometimes calls in the middle of the night when he needs to talk.

    Yes, people yelling in the middle of the night can be extremely upsetting. One night this summer, while I was outside photographing moths, I could hear some man screaming and yelling on the side road that runs along the river near my place. It was obvious that he was drunk and yelling obscenities. It went on and on. I thought that surely someone in one of the houses between my place and where he was would call the police. I wondered if I should call, but then decided not to as maybe he is the local drunk and does this once in awhile on a Saturday night. Anyhow, it was bizarre. He sounded like Brando hollering "Stella" in Streetcar Named Desire. Against the silence of the forests here, it was very eerie. My house has most of the windows removed and I was afraid he'd come into my yard, so I took the dogs and went out and laid down in my van with the doors locked. It always feels like a safe place to me. Finally, someone did call the police and they came and took the guy away. Turned out he'd been at a wedding reception and got very drunk and everyone left and left him behind, so he started walking home and got lost and angry. Anyhow, it was pretty upsetting -- so I know just about how you feel.

  4. I know that I'd have reacted the same way, please don't feel bad that you were scared (vs. sending kind thoughts to the people making the commotion).

    We have learned that everything we believed to be true and solid can be altered beyond recognition in a nanosecond. That's a brutal lesson. At 19 months, I alternate between a "good" state of mind, ie I am not frightened and see the good in people and situations by nature. Then I flip to the dark side ... it is a horrible feeling, and with it comes horrid scarey thoughts.

    I hope you manage to sleep well tonight xxx

  5. I agree, megan, the hardest thing about this - aside from the blatant fact that my beloved is just plain gone from here and not coming back - is the loss of any quaint sure-footed assumption that things might turn out ok. Yeah. They might not, too.
    I am so glad you called; it feels like a privilege to be one thought of in the middle of the night, so glad i was awake, and sorry that i was fading at the end.
    Sometimes just the act of calling helps though. I was having a serious meltdown at our camp in Sullivan once last fall, practically a psychotic episode, really scared myself, and looked through my contacts to see who I could call. I suppose nearly any of them, but I just wouldn't have. It only got worse as I scrolled past Jeff's cell phone # on speed dial. I ended up leaving a message with J's best friend in NYC, and by the time he called me back an hour or two later the crisis had passed.
    Although like i said, i never sleep naked anymore because something might happen. What? I don't know, but I know who has to deal with it now.

  6. "I know who has to deal with it now" - man, that is a very appropriate catch-all for everything, isn't it.