When you get up in the morning, do you ever expect that particular day to change your life forever? Not normally. Is there any way to prepare for a day like that? I doubt it. Do we ever get a reset button to start the day over? Unfortunately, no!
I had one of those days. One was definitely ENOUGH!
The silence was deafening. The only sounds I heard were coming from inside my head. I could hear the blood rushing through my veins from the palpitations of my heart. My sweater was moving to the uneven rhythm. I had to keep telling myself to remain calm. I must not appear flustered or guilty. I tried taking deep breaths to slow down the pace of my heart which took every ounce of my strength and fortitude. I grabbed my knees with both hands in an effort to stop them from shaking. But that didn’t seem to help, and fear prevented me from thinking rationally.
I was in a police station, alone, and scared. The holding room was like a phone booth with no windows. I was sweltering under a choking fog of body odor and stale cigarette smoke. Nausea swept over me and I had to force myself to take a breath.
"You wait here,” a man said gruffly. Then the door was slammed shut and locked. That sound resonated through me and I felt as though my life was ending. It sent shivers up my spine and made me shudder. I could not explain my emotions or why I was so scared because I wasn’t even sure what was going on. My mind raced. It was an emotional whiplash between “why” and “what if.” What was going to happen? Why were they holding me? The questions wouldn’t stop and I could not think clearly. I felt sick to my stomach completely oblivious to the fact that deep within my belly, new life was growing.
A gentle, yet firm, voice inside me was saying, “Admit to nothing. Only tell them your name and address. Say nothing else. Be careful, because they will try to trip you up." I did not totally understand this, but the voice got louder and louder until I knew I had to obey.
An hour earlier, three plainclothes officers were standing at our front door. One of them deliberately shoved me out of the way. I felt violated and terrified. Another one asked me my name and read me my rights.
Our Doberman stationed herself between my son and me. She was extremely agitated and showing her teeth. One of the officers pulled out his pistol and held it in position to shoot our pet right in front of my son. Things were spinning out of control. I was scared and getting angry. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I felt lightheaded, like I might pass out. The man lowered his gun and began speaking in a loud, condescending tone, asking if I had any weapons in the house.
You want weapons?
My little boy exclaimed, "You want weapons? I got weapons!" They followed him into his bedroom, all three with pistols drawn, as my innocent unsuspecting four-year-old opened his bottom dresser drawer and exposed all his "weapons." The three towering men looked into the drawer. One had the gall to search through the toys in great anticipation of finding something illegal. My son beamed with pride to have real policemen interested in his plastic revolvers and holster. If I hadn't been so scared, I might have laughed.
In a small, locked room from where I found myself a short time later, I could hear the police on the other side of the closed door. I smiled to myself, feeling a moment of temporary relief. Finally, someone opened the door to my hellhole and said “Follow me.”
I had to concentrate on not tripping as my legs were the consistency of Jell-O. I told myself I must not appear weak. I was led into a dingy office that smacked of Government Issue paint. The entire room lacked color. There was a distinct odor of mold. A quick glance around the room showed nothing personal, not even a plant. The desk was covered in files, and I could not help but wonder if they had information about me in one.
“You better talk and talk fast lady if you want to get home to that kid of yours anytime soon,” one of them said. I did have the presence of mind to ask, “Don’t I get one phone call at least?”
Reluctantly, one of the officers handed me a phone book. I randomly picked an attorney from the yellow pages and dialed the number, trying to keep my hand steady, so I would not show my nervousness. The lawyer said the exact same thing as my inner voice, adding, “Be careful what you sign.” I wondered why he’d mentioned signing something.
Terror was running through my veins
The interrogation continued but I stood my ground and did not waver. After ten or fifteen minutes, another officer entered the room. He looked unkempt in a wrinkled suit. His tie was crooked and didn’t match his shirt. I found it odd I should notice something that insignificant but it gave me a little more courage. He bent down and whispered something into another officer's ear. It seemed they were going to let me go.
"Read this release form and sign on the bottom,” he told me. I sensed irritation in his voice and assumed he was upset that they had to release me. I looked the form over. It basically said I was being released for lack of evidence. I was about to sign it when I felt compelled to turn it over. At the bottom of the page, in print almost too small to read was a statement admitting my guilt.
I stood up and threw the paper across the desk. “What kind of a game is this?” I raged. “There is no way I’m signing this form!” My adrenalin was rushing, which gave me the audacity I needed to hold my head up high and walk out of there.
Nothing in my upbringing had prepared me for what was ahead.
This was an excerpt from Battered Hope, my memoir.
This was an excerpt from Battered Hope, my memoir.
Have you had a similar experience of terror? Were you able to be bold in the presence of fear?
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