HOW "HOME ALONE" RUINED MY LIFE

I've never written about this before. Part of me is afraid thinking about it will make it flare up again. I guess we'll see.
  1. As far back as I can remember, I have had a deep-seated, totally irrational fear of people breaking into my home in the middle of the night.
  2. I loved the movie "Home Alone." Loved "Home Alone 2" even more. Despite that, both movies planted in my head the idea that there were Bad Guys who wanted to come into my home, and they wanted to hurt me.
  3. Of course, there *are* Bad Guys - not many, but enough to perpetuate this fear straight through adulthood.
  4. I grew up in a tiny town in Mississippi. At night, it was very quiet. And whenever I would hear a sound outside - a car, an animal, the wind - I would run to the window and peek outside. Any sound at all would guarantee that I'd be up for at least another half an hour.
  5. When I went to college, this fear subsided. Dorms felt secure. I didn't think about Bad Guys anymore.
  6. I moved to Los Angeles after college into an apartment in Pasadena. By Los Angeles standards, Pasadena is both safe and pretty quiet. As I write this, my front door is wide open. A screen door is the only thing separating me from a Bad Guy. And I feel totally secure.
  7. After about a year of living here, something happened in my personal life that really shook me up - a list for another day - and I began to fear death in all its forms. The Bad Guys were back. And they were everywhere.
  8. Smoking weed helped, sometimes. If I could get to sleep without being spooked, it was wonderful. But one good scare, and extreme paranoia would set in. Smoking was a gamble, every single time.
  9. I would go nights without sleep. My bedroom windows were permanently smudged from my forehead pressing against it, surveying the area. I started sleeping with a large kitchen knife on my bedside table. If I heard a noise, I would take it with me in an attack position, ready to kill anything I saw that moved.
  10. My girlfriend at the time had no patience for this. Every time I would look out of the window, she would groan and tell me I was crazy. And she was right. I knew she was right. But the Bad Guys didn't know that.
  11. To make matters worse, two of the apartments in my 8-unit complex were robbed one evening WHILE I WAS HOME. My literal worst fear had come true, except it happened to the apartments directly below mine. The Bad Guys were real.
  12. To this day, I have never been robbed. One day, I left home for hours with my front door mistakenly left wide open. Everything was as I left it.
  13. I still have trouble sleeping. But the anxieties are rational ones - fears about money, personal relationships, my career. When you have real problems, the irrational ones fade into the background.
  14. I no longer fear the Bad Guys. But damned if I don't still think they're still there, waiting in the dark. It's okay, though. Now I sleep with a hatchet.