OK, this whole sniper business is starting to really annoy me.
When he (I’ll say he, because the majority of snipers have been male — I’m going with the odds here) started his shooting spree in Maryland, I mourned for his victims but felt safe enough in Virginia.
When he moved down to Fredericksburg, I felt badly for those whom he hurt, but felt that my family in northern Virginia and me in southern Virginia were going to be all right. Hopefully.
When he then shot the woman outside a Home Depot that I know the precise location of, and that I have been to, I got mad. I grieved for the poor woman’s husband who witnessed this cowardly deed, but got a little more nervous with the proximity of the latest victim to my father’s home.
When he then came down to Richmond and shot a man who was just passing through this fine commonwealth, I got scared.
And I don’t like being scared.
The thing is, I KNOW the sniper can’t come here. It’s a statistical impossibility unless he’s a major moron because there’s no way out. There’s only one major highway into this area, and the police could easily and quite quickly shut down all bridges and tunnels and close the sniper in.
But I know too many people in Richmond. I know too many people who live in northern Virginia. I know too many people who travel the length of the state for various reasons on a fairly regular basis.
I can’t manage to feel safe.
Plus all of this fuels my one hidden phobia… my one paranoia which is the stupidest of all phobias, but one that has haunted me since I was a child.
I have this fear, which has resulted in a major fear of the dark, of getting shot.
And it’s not just something that I’m afraid of, like Kurt’s afraid of spiders. I manage to whip myself into paranoia by imagining getting shot when I’m crossing the parking lot at night alone… I see in my mind a copycat sniper hiding in the bushes right by my building and taking aim at my head.
Strangely enough, when my imagination takes over, it’s always in the head that I’m shot.
I get nervous driving on the highway when I piss someone off, and they pass me and glare at me. I start to think they’ve got a gun and they’re taking aim at my head as they pass.
At my father’s house, there’s a window next to our front door, and when I would stay up late in the basement on the computer till the wee hours of the morning, I would have to run by that window because I was sure someone was laying in wait to shoot at me as I sprinted up the stairs to my bedroom.
And all of this started well before the sniper attacks. It’s something I’ve had to deal with for more than fifteen years, and something I’ve managed to hide quite well. People know I’m afraid of the dark; I’m not ashamed to admit to it. But they don’t know why, and I’m not sure why I never told anyone. I finally told Kurt about it as we drove home from Momma’s house Saturday night, after spending the day at a festival. She had called my cell phone to tell me another person had been shot. And for some reason I just opened up to Kurt and told him.
I don’t know where this phobia has come from. I know that I have an extremely vivid imagination (all those years of reading any book I could lay my hands on), which is why I don’t see horror films or very gory films. I went to sleep last night after reading The Skies of Pern by Anne McCaffrey, which is rather tame reading, but snapped awake at 4:15am because I dreamt of a body in a box, and as the examiner looked at it, he/she/I realized it had been decapitated. Needless to say I couldn’t sleep for another hour or so.
I don’t like to be alone in the house because of this fear of getting shot. I know I don’t live in the best of neighborhoods, but it’s been more than a year since the last robbery in the complex. I still snap awake in the middle of the night when the cats make weird noises at the door, or Tony the doctor upstairs thuds loudly to the kitchen for his coffee at weird hours, thinking someone’s broken in and is on his way to the bedroom to shoot us. I don’t even like to go to the bathroom when Kurt’s asleep because someone could bust in the apartment right as I’m in the middle of the hallway, which has a clear line of sight to the front door.
I know all of this is foolish, and I know people will tell me I can get over it. But how do you get over a fear that seems rooted in you, in your very essence? It’s not like biting my fingernails (which is another bad habit I’ve struggled with since I was born, just about), where I can see myself doing it and force myself to stop. The images just come unbidden into my mind, and even though I tell myself that nothing can hurt me, that I’m okay and will be fine, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I end up running back into the bedroom, trying to get back to Kurt as quickly as I can.
I guess I’m just extremely paranoid.