My favorite place to go is my psychiatrist office. Yes, I know, that’s
not what most people think of as an enjoyable outing. It wasn’t even
on my radar until six months ago.
Prior to May 2012, when I sought the help of a psychiatrist for the first time in my life, my favorite place to spend time was Nordstrom’s. These days, I rarely go shopping or anywhere else, for that matter, and visiting my shrink is the highlight of my week. That’s a big change — one of many I’ve made, or rather, been forced to make, this year. Strangely enough, my Nordstrom habit kept a higher balance in my bank account. Even more surprising, I really don’t miss shopping or a lot of the other niceties I once enjoyed that are no longer part of my life. What I do miss is feeling safe and comfortable. These days, the only two places where I do feel truly safe are my home and my psychiatrist’s office.
So last Monday, October 29, 2012, I was looking forward to my weekly visit to the psychiatrist. Monday was also my youngest son, Lance’s, first day back to work after he was robbed at the bank where he is employed the week before. The robbery really rattled him, and the robber is still at large. He was a bit nervous about taking the Max train (Portland’s version of rapid transit) like he usually does, so he asked if I would take him downtown since I was headed that direction, anyway, for my psychiatrist appointment.
When I dropped off Lance at Wells Fargo, I told him, “I’ll be at my
psychiatrist’s office until 11:15. If you feel uncomfortable or like
you can’t make it through the day, just call or text and I will pick
you up and take you home.” Then, we hugged goodbye, and I wished him a good day.
As always, I had my list of topics to discuss with my psychiatrist —
first and foremost, Lance and the robbery. As usual, the visit was
wonderful. My doctor has a great sense of humor, and I love listening to his stories. When he shares with me, I feel even more connected to this very intelligent man who I believe is saving my soul.
At the end of the appointment, we decided I would return to his office the next day for another hour-long chat. I left his office feeling
very positive, and I always enjoy the 14-mile trip back home through the mountain pass.
Typically, I run errands after my appointment and then go home to take a nap and just relax my mind. But Monday, feeling especially worn out from the week’s emotional turmoil, I went straight home. I texted my husband, Ronnie, at work to tell him I was turning off my phone to take a short nap.
I was asleep for maybe 20 minutes when a loud bam bam bam woke me up,
startling me. When I heard another bam bam bam, I jumped again but then realized someone was knocking hard on the front door. It’s
probably just a campaign solicitor, I tried to rationalize, but my
mind started racing, going to other scary possibilities. I need to
start setting the perimeter alarm when I’m home alone, I thought.
Trying to get a grip, I reminded myself that Ronnie would be home
shortly and I had an alarm keypad close to my bed; should whoever was at the door try to enter the house, I could set off the alarm. Feeling a little calmer, I decided not to answer the door.
About 20 minutes later, I heard the garage door open and knew Ronnie was home. He came upstairs, and I told him what had happened. Ronnie went downstairs, checked the front door, and returned to our bedroom with a business card from the sheriff’s office that had been slipped in the door.
I asked Ronnie to call and see what was going on. The officer
explained that he had come to the house to do a welfare check on me because our son Anthony had sent a text threatening to kill me to his siblings. My daughter Amanda had reported the text to the sheriff’s office.
At that point, I got on the phone and spoke with the officer, assuring
him I was fine but shaken by Anthony’s death threat against me. The officer told me he had called Lance, too, because Amanda had informed him that Anthony had sent the text to Lance as well. That is when I got pissed off! Lance had been at work only a few hours after taking a few days off to recover from the trauma of being robbed under threat of a pipe bomb, and now he had to
deal with this!
I told the officer I was shocked Amanda had called the police, as I
had not spoken to her since 2002. I speculated that the only reason
she’d called was because she didn’t want to be under suspicion if
something bad happened to me.
The officer also told me he’d already talked with Anthony on the phone and was going to his place of employment to speak with him in person. He said he was taking the threat seriously and opening a case for the incident. He gave me a list of precautions to follow and said he’d added extra patrol to my home.
After the officer visited Anthony at work, he called me back with some questions regarding Anthony’s behavioral history, which I answered.
All afternoon, I hounded Ronnie to mow the grass and clean up the
fallen leaves. “You have to do it before it gets dark, Ronnie!” I kept
“I know, Becki. I know how you want it,” he said. “Just try to relax.”
But I couldn’t let it go until Ronnie finally went out and mowed and
cleaned up the yard just the way my biological father had once advised me: so that, the next morning, we could tell if someone had walked on the lawn during the night.
Once the lawn was done and the alarm was set, I relaxed a bit. But I had trouble sleeping. I spent most of the night watching cars go by,
my stomach in knots, looking out the window to see whether each one stopped and anyone got out and walked toward our house. I worried about our pets, even though we keep them inside, knowing Anthony had hurt animals in the past and that he knew the best way to hurt me was to hurt those I love. I worried about him burning down the house. I worried about needing to get an attorney again; Ronnie and I have already spent years and tens of thousands of dollars in legal battles trying to defend me against Anthony’s assaults against my character. I worried about our elderly neighbors feeling frightened about seeing a police car in our driveway, and I was embarrassed by that, too.
But what wrenched my heart and concerned me the most was poor Lance having to deal with all the drama and trying to maintain relationships with his siblings when they hated his mom so much.
Needless to say, I had much to discuss with my psychiatrist the next day. In fact, it was more than we could cover in one session. So I went to see him again the next day.
Yesterday, the officer stopped by our house again. He told me what Anthony actually said in the text he’d sent to his siblings: He knew someone who would kill me for $500.