Learning From Fear


Have you ever had one of those moments that makes you want to shake your fist at the sky and shout out, "Alright, enough, already!"? That pretty much sums up the beginning of my month.

A couple of weekends ago, I suddenly became aware that the house was sweltering. I walked over to the thermostat to turn on the A/C, and realized it was already on. Except it wasn't. The house was 83 degrees. I walked around, flipping breakers and looking at mechanical things I don't really understand, then called my landlord. I was annoyed because August in California, but what do you do?

On Monday, a sweet young repairman showed up. He climbed up to the roof to look at my A/C unit, then came back through the house a few minutes later. "I have to get a part," he said. "We'll be back soon." A few hours later, his boss and another repairman showed up unannounced. Then the story unfolded. I needed a whole new air conditioner lifted up to my roof on a crane. My landlord explained to me that it appeared someone had gone up to the roof, torn out the air conditioner (we're talking hundreds of pounds here), and tried to get in through the HVAC system (which I'm told is impossible, anyway due to the structure of the house and attic).

But still ...

I rewound to Friday night, when my friend had been here. I remembered little details that had seemed meaningless at the time. I remembered how my friend had suddenly gotten spooked about taking the dog out for a walk. I remembered thinking that my neighbors were being particularly loud coming up the stairs around 11:00 p.m. I remembered how the whole house had shuddered as I stood in my daughter's room. It had sounded like it was coming from the side of the house, and I just shrugged it off, thinking no more than, "That's weird." 

The more I put the pieces together, the more scared and anxious I became. Whoever had been on my roof had climbed up there at 11:00 on a Friday night, when all of the lights were on in my house. They had hopped a 10-foot spiked wrought iron fence, and walked right past my and my neighbor's back porch--where the light was on--to get up to the roof. We had been right here. They hadn't cared.

Panic started to set in. I have a house alarm. I had felt safe. Was that safety just an illusion?

The week that followed was a whirl of contractors in and out of the house, sweaty days, and mounting fear. The security company came to my house and tricked it out like Fort Knox, with sensors in places I had never even considered before. Even with that, every night was a panicky challenge. How was I supposed to sleep now, knowing that something like this could happen? Not to mention the fact that it was f*cking hot. Wildfires raged in all directions outside, so the windows had to stay closed. The house felt oppressive and suffocating, much like my life felt.

I was really hot and really scared. But, as each day passed between the time of the attempted robbery and the day a new A/C went up a week later, I also got more and more angry. 

This winter, I spent a month bundled up on the living room couch with Izzy next to me in her Rock n' Play because the heat went out and the upstairs was uninhabitably cold. The downstairs wasn't much better. The owners of the home took their sweet time fixing it, while we continued to freeze and pay rent. This time, my landlord was wonderful--concerned, and moving as quicky as he could. (Also, it wasn't his fault that this had happened in the first place, like it had been previously.) Still, that didn't change the fact that the house was essentially unlivable. So here we were, living in unlivable conditions. Again.

How had I landed in such similar situations twice in a single year? Nothing remotely similar to this had never happened before in my entire life, and now here I was two times in a row, at the extreme ends of the year during Izzy's first year of life. I was tired of paying big money to live in houses that were inhabitable, trying to get work done and live in extreme conditions with contractors traipsing in and out. 

But that was only the beginning. 

I was also tired of being scared in my own home, and alternately trying to avoid it or tip-toeing around, looking over my shoulder. This has been a theme for about three years now, although before this incident it was the result of someone I invited into my home. This time, though, the fear was the result of someone I hadn't invited in. To be honest, I'm not sure which is worse. Certainly, neither option is good. 

Feeling scared in this particular house packed a big punch because I love this place. It's bright and sunny and happy. It's mine and Izzy's, and ours alone. It was safe. It felt like home (or, at least, it had), and it took a lot of effort for me to get here. It is the first place where I've felt a semblance of home and respite since I left Boston in 2015. And now, in one fell swoop, that was all taken away by some asshole(s) up on my roof. To say I was pissed off is an understatement because, there again was another theme in my life over the past several years: this sense of having control over my own life seized away from me. Fuck. That.

In case you can't tell, it was not a fun couple of weeks. I was swimming in a deep pool of anger and fear. Particularly because, on top of all of this, I'm not living in a city that I love or where I would normally choose to be. I love my house, but I don't love California. I don't love this town. It's just where I have to be right now due to circumstance. I made do and found the best situation I could within a spectrum of limited options. Now it felt like I couldn't even have that. It felt as if my life and who I am at my core kept getting whittled away and whittled away. All of it seemed beyond my control. It felt as if I was fighting against forces bigger than myself; like I kept rebuilding a house made of twigs on the water's edge. Every time I finished it, a new wave came crashing down on my home, carrying it off to sea. 

I haven't hit this sort of low in a long time. After a year of fighting so hard to make things right, to make them good, this was the thing that made it feel like all of my hard work was totally pointless. I don't feel like that very often. 

And then ... things started to turn around. The air came back on. My therapist pointed out several things I couldn't see for myself. I had a security expert come in and show me, in very technical and informed ways, why I was safe. Yes, someone had tried to get in, but they had failed. And, for a number of reasons, if anyone tried again, they would also fail.

I realized that all of this had happened during an eclipse--and, not only that, but an eclipse that fell in my house of home. Eclipses usher in unexpected events that shake up our life in unforeseen ways and promote rapid change. They occur in one of twelve sectors of our charts, called "houses." Each of these houses rules a particular sector of our lives. This eclipse happened in my home sector (so, somewhat confusingly, in my house of home). 

As astrologer Susan Miller put it: "Last month, the July 27 eclipse was demanding, and may have brought up a sudden situation involving your residence, other property you may own or rent. That particular eclipse was tough because of the position of Uranus, the planet of unexpected developments, locked into a very harsh, tight mathematical position to the full moon and Mars. News would have come up without warning, like a thunderbolt. All full moons are emotional, but this one seems to have been more so. There was no way to prepare for what was to come up, for that is the nature of Uranus. As you enter August, you may be deciding what to do about your residence or other property you own or rent." 

I have found over the years that the tougher an eclipse is, the bigger and better the end result. Again, as Susan says, "Indeed the job of an eclipse is to forcefully expose truths that were hidden, and when they are revealed, it sometimes is a shock. An eclipse, in an effort to protect you, will show you all that it finds." In this particular case, all of this was very true.

This event caused me to step back and look at my life. It required me to take a careful look at where I am versus where I want to be. It asked me how much I was willing to give up. It brought up fears I hadn't acknowledged, and armed me with new ways of coping with them. I learned that I am sick and tired of having my boundaries tested. I realized that I am not willing to give anything else up. The season to reclaim has come. 

And the seasons of fear have come to an end. At last, it is time for my home to be my own again.