Living in a constant alert-state is exhausting

A little backstory:

When I went overseas last year to Moldova, we had dinner at one of my grandparent’s family friends. We were having a conversation about life here and there, and the conversation turned to safety.

I was honest about the crime rates in South Africa.

I told them that most homes have security bars on their windows, and security gates on their doors. Electric fences. Alarm systems. 

I explained the types of crimes we have to endure.

Just as we were ending the topic, the TV displayed a news report from South Africa, showcasing a short video about the violent crimes that take place. The room was silent while we watched, and I remember thinking, “I don’t think they believed me“. 

Then the statement came, “I would rather live here with our problems, then constantly be worried about my family’s safety.

It hit home, hard. See, Moldova is seen as the poorest country in Europe, and for someone to say that they would rather stay in their situation than live in fear and anxiety was an eye opener. 

I was asked how do we live like this, and all I could say is we just do. 

Truth is… I’m exhausted. 

I’m exhausted from living in fear and anxiety.

I’m angry that we have to live the lives we do, not because it’s a want, but because it’s a necessity.

A few days back, I reread the article on BusinessTech to look at the crime stats release for 2019-2020. While there are decreases in certain crimes, some had a big spike.

Those don’t even include the violence we’re seen since the stats were released.

It feels that there are more and more cases of GBV coming to light, showcasing the horrible ways these women and children had their lives taken from them.

We’re heartbroken and we’re fucking angry.

Heartbroken for the women and children whose lives have been taken.
Angry that there is no justice. Angry that we’re not taken seriously with our cries. Angry that we don’t have the freedom to just live. 

I hate leaving my home to go somewhere. I’m constantly worried of something happening. No, I’m not being dramatic. This is the reality we’re living with. If we can call this living. 

I’m suspicious of everyone.

The person waiting in the queue.
The employee that ‘casually’ said “hey, beautiful” to me when I was walking into the pet store.
The person crossing the road while I’m in the car.
The car that left the mall at the same time as me, and drove behind me for a while before finally turning into another road.

Waiting in the street and not in my driveway for the gate to open in case I need to get away.

It’s exhausting constantly being alert of everything and everyone. Yes, you should be in general, but this a new level.

Last week, Byren sent me a video of an attempted kidnapping of a little girl at a restaurant. My anxiety and my anger immediately spiked. Where are we safe? Where can we go without constantly feeling like something could go wrong?

This could happen anywhere; at the mall, at your child’s school. ANYWHERE!

Earlier this year, my kids and I witnessed a violent attack while we were on our way home from school pick up and I had to find the right words to explain the situation in a delicate way to not plant a seed of fear and anxiety.

I would get frustrated each time Byren told me to be careful when I needed to go somewhere, thinking I’m an adult, I’m careful. But I get it why now, I understand that the fears aren’t just on my side.

We’ve taken steps to protect our kids online, and now there’s more. Only one child is allowed to accompany us when one of us needs to go out. The rules do mean our kids are even more isolated from the world. It isn’t fair on them, but we need to look at this realistically.

We don’t even go out as a family to restaurants anymore because of the incidents we’ve read about. I don’t allow my boys to use the men’s bathroom at malls, and I don’t care who says what about it.
Their safety is the first priority and I’ll do what I need to to protect them from lurking dangers.

I can’t rule out the part where my fears and anxieties are working even when I’m at home.

Hearing police sirens multiple times a day.
Dogs in our street barking in the day and the night.
Every sound at night waking you – keeping you awake until you finally pass out from exhaustion.
Not allowing our kids to play in our front yard anymore.
Constantly keeping all doors and windows locked when I’m alone with the kids.

Getting notifications on the community SOS group and feeling the fear gripping me as various people report crimes.
Hardly sleeping at night each time Byren had to travel for work and I was alone with the kids.

Day and night exhaustion.

I remember being able to walk around on my own (in Moldova), without needing to look over my shoulder constantly. Without needing to worry about my safety walking to buy a few groceries. Without needing to worry about leaving the apartment to cross the street to visit family. I was able to wear clothes I usually only reserve for home and not having anyone make sexual remarks at me.

Don’t get me wrong, there is crime in Moldova: just not on such a big scale and not this violent.

This constant anxiety and fear, it fucks you up. Emotionally, physically and mentally.

It’s draining. It’s exhausting. It’s not how we should be living.

We should have the freedom to go wherever we want to, alone or as a family, and not feel unsafe. We shouldn’t be shutting our kids away and taking away experiences. We should have the freedom to be in our homes without the fears of a violent attack. We, as women, shouldn’t be afraid to live our lives, shouldn’t be afraid for our lives.

We SHOULD, but we don’t.

No, again, I’m not being dramatic. We can’t just ‘live like this‘ anymore.

No, this isn’t living.
This is surviving.

I don’t want to survive each day. I want to live. We all do.

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