It’s taken some weeks for me to feel in a position to write this post though I have realised for some time that I must. The day after we were broken into (for the second time in twelve hours) I was sat at work, desperately typing into Google ‘coping with burglary’ and trying not to cry all over my keyboard. The whole experience hit me like a ton of bricks. But I realised that how I reacted in those difficult days after it happened would define how I coped with it long term. It was the beginning of overcoming it or the beginning of it overcoming me.
During my Google search I came across so many devastating stories of people who had moved out of their homes, slept under the window they were broken in through to try and stop it happening again, lives that were ruined by the experience. Perhaps it sounds dramatic but I can completely understand that reaction. Reading those stories, however, convinced me that I must do everything in my power to get back to living my life how I had before. So this is my story about doing just that and I hope it will be useful to any one wading in the Google waters or (God forbid) it should it ever happen to you.
Firstly, being broken in to is devastating. If you feel devastated then you are completely normal. Your safe place, the place you shut the door to get away from the rest of the world, has been taken from you. If you are anything like me you will feel that there is no where you can rest. That is painful and emotional (and very tiring). Getting over it is a process but like any difficult time, it will end. You will feel normal again in your home. It’s now four weeks since we were broken in to and I am sleeping as well as I did before the break in, life does go back to normal. In this interim as you wait out this frankly horrible time there are a few things that might help, things that helped me:
1. Lean on, and stay with, friends
This one took some convincing for me as I wanted to guard my house like a pit bull but it was the best thing I did in the days after the break in at the suggestion of a friend. My logic is this, you are most likely exhausted and in need of a good night’s sleep to cope with everything that you have to sort out and to get on with the business of feeling better. Your house and possessions are not as important as your sanity. Get the rest you need.
If you know your neighbours then now is the time to call in those favours and ask to stay over. You’ll be close enough to pop home and check on things if you’d like. I remember putting my head down on my pillow and thinking ‘I’m safe’ for the first time in days. I slept like a log.
Once the police have been and collected all the evidence they need you will be left with the mess to sort out. Give the house a really thorough clean. For me this was really helpful psychologically, it allowed me to begin the process of moving on. I was removing the presence of the intruders and reclaiming the space for myself.
This perhaps goes without saying but do all you can to make your house feel safe and secure again. This might be an alarm (you can get great wireless ones now if you are a renter or window alarms for £15), a security light, some new locks, some net curtains, a safe for your valuables. Whatever you can do will be helpful to your peace of mind.
4. Signs to remind you of your resolution to get through it
Stubbornness and a refusal to give over your life and wellbeing over to a (insert angry word!) situation gets you a long way, I find. You can’t control what happens to you in life but you can control how you respond. Don’t let it beat you.
To remind yourself of you intent to take your life and home back I found some visible reminders useful. Get yourself a bunch of flowers. I put a big vase of yellow roses in front of one of the broken windows and every time I looked at it it reminded me that this was MY house and of my resolution to myself to get through it. I also wrote a message to myself on the chalk board in our kitchen which was just before you reached the second broken window at the back of the house. This read ‘And we know that God works all things for the good of those that love him’ which is from the book of Romans in the New Testament. This helped me to remember, before I saw the boarded window again, that however rubbish I felt now, I would overcome. Whatever your message to yourself, get it written up there. It really helps.
A couple of weeks later I had a thorough re decoration of our bedroom, I moved around furniture and made the space much lovelier than it was to begin with. This really helped me to feel positive when I walked into the room rather than think always about the break in.
6. Treat yourself
Meals out, bars of chocolate, a new dress - now is not the time to scrimp and save. Whatever you can do to make this time more positive and more enjoyable for yourself then do it. Give yourself lots of TLC and let other look after you. You’d do the same for them.
7. Take your time
Try not to berate yourself if you’re still struggling a few weeks in. It will get better but it’s normal for that to take time. You’re bound the feel nervous and struggle to get back the positive feelings about your house. It WILL come. Tell people if you feel down, let them support you. There are organisations out there, like Victim Support, set up to help you through. Use them if you want to. There is no shame in that.
Likewise you might experience sudden bouts of anger in the strangest of situations. Speaking to other people who have been broken into, this is not uncommon. A few weeks after the break in I was inexplicably furious for days. I thought it couldn’t be related to what had happened as it was ages ago by then (in my mind!) until someone else who had been broken into gently said ‘I was very angry for a long time after I was broken in to.’ It suddenly clicked into place. With time I started to feel better and I could at least explain my actions to the poor souls that got in my way!!
I wish you well as you pick up the pieces of what has happened. If you hold on to nothing else, then hold onto this IT WILL GET BETTER.