The 'gift' of fear

During my time in university as an undergrad, I experienced many scares that came along with the territory of being a girl living in the farthest dorm from campus. During my freshman year I didn't have a car and the regardless of what route I took back to my dorm chances are I'd have to walk a great stretch with little to no outside lights around. Most of the time I would take my bike and speed, praying all the way and hoping I didn't run into trouble. My campus job let out late at night leaving me returning 'home' around 11:30 or later. I hated it! My mom always told me I could call campus safety if I wanted an escort back to my dorm as that what they were there for, I always opted out. After all, I was already laughed at for being alert when I went to college in a small town. To others, it didn't matter that there was still gang violence and predators as we were informed via self defense classes. And so, trying not to burden anyone... I took my chances and often rode or walked home as fast as I could.

I had several incidents happen during that year, the one I remember most clearly happened right before the end of spring term. I had taken my bike as usual and sped home, crossing a busy road to my dorm. It was late and no one was around or even outside the building. As soon as I had pulled into my dorm's front entrance and started putting in my key code to open the door a van pulled in behind me blocking me against a door that, undoubtedly wouldn't open this one time. For some reason the door system was down and I was locked outside. I remember the van pulled up on the grass rather close to the entrance and my bike. Guys packed inside it were hooting at me, screaming obscenities. I didn't turn around but frantically thought of hurling my bike at anyone getting out of the car and running. I banged on the glass door screaming for at least a good minute before a hall mate's boyfriend opened it for me. By then the van had gone but I was upset. I was up to 1 in the morning giving a full statement to the police on the kind of car, etc.

A female campus officer took me aside after to make sure I was alright. She told me about the book, The Gift of Fear: survival signals that protect us from violence by Gavin De Becker. A good read for any person eager to find out the science and method behind a lot of violence and stalkings. There are helpful tips in the book that help you know when fear is unnecessary or something you should listen to. What to do if someone is stalking you, how to find out the source of anonymous threats or phone calls, etc. Truly a valuable resource. In talking with the officer I was both reassured and somewhat more on edge when I realized I had felt threatened and what would have happened if the door had not been opened in time.

I learned through this and other experiences that true fear, those instincts that protect us from danger, really is a gift! Intuition is sometimes there for a reason and listening to the voice inside you can be incredibly valuable if something feels 'off' about a situation.

And so, my third confession is this- in dealing with the N's I often ignored or suppressed the feeling of 'get out' and 'something's not right here' many, many times. I would agree to stay longer than hoped with the N's as well as to meet up with them after the verbal abuse I had already received. As listed in the 21 rules of no contact, I went against all the voices inside me screaming 'no' when we met in person to talk things through (really just to experience more abuse).

Your gut feeling of whether or not an environment is safe is extremely valuable in dealing with N's or potential N's! I realize that, looking back, if only I had listened to my conscience when it was telling me something was a bad idea. Those internal warnings were on red alert for a reason and I ignored them. Because they're 'family' because I was afraid of making my boyfriend/fiance mad or making a situation worse by simply refusing to meet in person behind closed doors. Because I had hoped-stupidly- that there is good in all people, especially parents. That somehow, deep down, all parents want the best for their adult children and will not hurt them. I can't believe I bought into that lie.

I am proud to say that since a year ago, I have changed. I have developed my sense of fear in a good way, listening to red alerts from my heart as situations pop up. Responding (or not) to contact from them before NC. Listening to what my body was telling me I was and was not comfortable with in relation to how close they were in proximity to me. I have built up walls of protection with the bricks of abuse they fueled me with. In learning more about NPD, I no longer feel guilty for going no contact. I feel safe. I feel happy and I celebrate in my ability to protect myself from further harm.

And for all those times when answers aren't black and white, but incredibly muddy and grey.... I know I'll listen to that gift of fear in my own heart. If something is really making me uncomfortable, I won't think twice about getting out of that situation.


  1. What I hate about the narcissist bastards is that the fear they put on you is so subtle that you over rule it. The guys in the van were obviously trouble makers but left on their own accord.
    It's the narcish Ted Bundy's that cause the real carnage. If a nice looking guy in a Volkswagen with a caste on his arm had been asking you to help with his packages and security had come up you would have told them you were fine and sent them on their way.
    They should be injected with syphilis and airlifted to a deserted island in the pacific.


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