Last week my house was robbed.

I came home from picking up my daughter at daycare and when I opened the door, it bumped into some luggage that I had beside the door waiting to go out to the trash.  It had clearly been moved, but only a foot or so and I couldn’t figure out why.

I looked around and saw a few other things on the floor that weren’t left like that and I started getting that feeling. Something wasn’t right. I’d felt this before, in college, when someone broke in during the middle of the night and robbed me of 100 DVDs. (Funny how that wouldn’t even be worth stealing today.)

As I looked around the corner into my office, I saw my new iMac was there, but it was laying face down on my desk. So far, I only saw that several items had been disturbed, but none were missing. My first thought was that something shook the house, like an earthquake. But that didn’t make sense.

Then I saw an imprint in the dust on the entertainment center where our 50” TV used to be.

I called Maya first and told her to come home and then called 911. While explaining the situation to them, I walked through the house and saw the sliding glass door open. I was kicking myself for a moment, thinking I’d left it unlocked, until I saw the point of entry at the window in the basement.

The person had pried the iron grate off the the window with a crowbar, smashed the storm window, then pried the window open and crawled through.

Then, I realized that I hadn’t gone through the whole house yet and my daughter was sitting in the living room, so the fear started to set in.

Photo via Rain Bennett

It wasn’t the items lost that hurt us, it was the violation.

Ultimately, we could have been hit much worse. He got a few things, some valuable and some sentimental, but there was a lot he left on the table (like the iMac – which we got some pretty decent fingerprints from).

As we looked at more of the evidence, we couldn’t figure out if it was completely random, or we’d been targeted. There were things that lead us to believe both were possible. This had been happening in our neighborhood lately. But the thought of someone in our bedroom rifling through our personal belongings was, and still is, quite unnerving.

My mind went through a number of thoughts to try and make myself feel better:

  • We are fortunate enough that anything we lost we can replace. They are just material things and luckily we have renter’s insurance and theft protection on my credit card that will help replace them.  
  • If that person is in a situation so desperate that he had to resort to this, he needed them worse than we did.
  • If it were influenced by a drug addiction, I can empathize. I come from a long line of addicts and they are suffering from a disease. It causes people to do terrible things.
  • If that person is able to do such an evil act, then fate will take care of them at some point.
  • I’m just glad none of us were home when it happened.
  • I wish I had been home when it happened.
  • Family is what matters most and everyone is fine, so we should focus on that.

But that’s the thing. Our houses are more than standing structures to keep all our stuff in. They are an extension of the family. The things that make a house a home are all the things in between the physical items: the place we rest, the place we eat and fuel ourselves, the place we love and laugh, the place we feel protected from the outside world.  

This was our safe zone. And it was violated.

That’s why I’ve been walking around the past week “gun shy” to leave the house. It was so bad the next day that I had my friend Samantha pick me up to go workout at Syncstudio and it’s only a mile from my house.

I usually walk or ride my bike to work, so my car is always in the driveway, but on the day of the break-in, I drove. Now I find myself scared to even leave the house, even though I know it makes no sense that the person would come right back to hit us again.

It’s a weird feeling and those I’ve talked to who have experience it say it will go away eventually.

And I suppose that it will, as its already gotten better.

When I think about this now, I think of how all the lessons I learned apply to the rest of my life. Because I cannot live in fear. That is crippling for all of us. But I also can’t control when evil, or bad luck, or terrible things in life happen. So I have to let go of what I can’t control and put my time and energy into those that I can.

All I can do is be as prepared as possible, do what I can to mitigate risk and maintain the safety of myself and my loved ones, and exist and act from a place of love, not fear.

I refuse to let him take my peace of mind.

Featured image via Rain Bennett, showing the thief’s point of entry.

Picture via Rain Bennett

Rain Bennett is a two time Emmy-nominated filmmaker, fitness professional, public speaker, and writer. His mission is simple: to help people realize that they too can be great, no matter where they come from or what they start with. It just takes passion, persistence, and a plan.

Bennett directed and produced his first feature length documentary in true indie fashion by traveling the world with only a backpack and a Canon DSLR camera. That film, Raise Up: The World is Our Gym won “Best of the Fest” at the Hip Hop Film Festival NYC and received global distribution through Red Bull Media House. He’s been featured in publications like Men’s Health and Sports Business Global and is a regular contributor to Breaking Muscle. When he’s not making movies or training clients at Sync Studio in Durham, he’s hosting a new webseries called The Perfect Workout Show.