My world is dark.  It’s full of making sure the doors in the house and my car are always locked.  I have been known to pile beach chairs against my back door that’s 2 floors down from my bedroom so I might hear when my house is being broken into.  Every time I get in the car in a parking lot, I panic if I am not getting situated fast enough for fear of a carjacker.  I even check the back seat of the car to make sure no one is there waiting for me.  And yes, I frequently walk around with the car key sticking out between my fingers when walking alone in case I need to punch or jab someone to get away.  I also run like that.

I take sedatives to fly because I fear that kind of death over every other kind and frequently dream that is how I will die.  I definitely WebMD my every medical symptom so I can get a complete picture of everything I may need to consider ahead of time because I was once told I might have pancreatic cancer and then – oops, “we don’t see that spot now so we must have been wrong the last 3 times we saw it.”

I was once approached by a French man who was being very pleasant and walked with me on my way to the Louvre but I panicked that he was just trying to mug me so I ditched him as fast as I could.  I knew there was no way a handsome French man found me so attractive in a crowd that he just had to catch up with me.  Yes, it’s happened to friends but for me he could only want my purse.

I am conditioned to assume any drink I leave unattended at a bar will be drugged.  I often figure any man paying attention to me is trying to get my defenses down so he can rape me – never that he is just trying to get to know me and thought I was pretty.  I have driven at questionable times because I was more afraid to accept a ride from a polite man than getting myself into an accident.

I grew up not being allowed to go to the playground down the street with my friends during the day because my mom felt there could be bad men there.  One day, I went to the park with my friends who were allowed to go (even though I knew I was breaking the rules) and there was a bad man.  And all the kids saw things small children shouldn’t have to see.  I missed it because my guilt caught up with me and I started walking home a couple minutes before it happened.  But I had to tell my mother about the bad men because my friends were afraid to tell and I knew we needed to tell.

My brother and I were playing outside one day when a car pulled up and literally asked if we wanted candy.  You bet I had already been taught that was wrong but my brother went for it.  I grabbed him and pulled him away.  Turns out, someone was trying to kidnap us.  The police came by to take my statement.

Once, when my parents were watching TV, my mom saw a man looking in our living room window at her.  My dad went out after him and saw he was naked running away.  Weird and gross.  Every time my dad was away on business after that, my mom put paper bags over the small windows at the top of our front door and one of my uncles would stay with us.  Another time, I woke up in the middle of a summer night and decided to look out the window.  In that very moment I saw people breaking into the car across the street from us.  I crawled into my parents’ bedroom, afraid if I stood up I would be seen, and had them call the police.

I once had a dream that the woman who lived diagonally across from us died.  The next morning, there was a fire engine and ambulance at her house because she died.  I also dreamt that my grandfather died.  He died four days after that dream.

I saw a boyfriend drive past my window at work on his way in that morning and noticed he was wearing glasses.  He only wore glasses when he forgot his contacts at my house.  But he hadn’t been at my house the night before which meant he had been at someone else’s.  He denied it and denied it – called me crazy, publicly shamed me amongst all our friends – made them think I was crazy.  Eventually, I found out I was right.

When 9/11 happened, I was in the office at my parents’ house where there was picture of one of the terrorists in a folder on the desk.  This is because the car they used had a bank receipt from my dad’s bank and my dad was the guy the FBI went to for the ATM video tapes.  That’s how they made the connection to who perpetrated the attacks.  And how many times have I gotten a new ATM card because of potential compromise?  Not to mention, my father once texted me about what he felt might be potential fraud in my account when he saw a debit.  I had to explain to him I was not being hacked and was shamefully trying to meet men.

I went to the Boston Marathon the one time it was attacked by Terrorists.

I guess I just don’t know how to believe in pure intentions vs. dark motives.  If someone appears to like me, I assume it’s a joke.  Because when I was a kid, it was a joke.  Fat jokes, hair pulling, being egged on my way to school, pretending to like me and then laughing at me if I returned the intention.

If I am on a date, I assume I am not really on a date.  I just figure it’s 2 friends getting together…maybe I am being slightly auditioned for potential but even if that’s the case, I would never believe I could “pass” so I don’t try to.  I have done nice things for guy friends just as a friend and they assume I want more when that’s not the case so then I feel like a repulsive freak.  But even if that were me trying to show an interest – why is it received like a wart?  And every time a guy has approached a friend to tell me they think I am pretty and want an intro – I have always declined because I assume it’s a joke or just for sex.

So yeah, online dating feels like 70% scam, 20% weirdo and maybe 10% actual possibility.  How would I even know when I am on 10% actual possibility with those odds? I am not desperate to be in a relationship.  I am very sincere about having a high quality single life on most days.  Yet, it would be nice to have someone to travel with, laugh with, beach with, music with.  I think being online or “open” to possibilities is a discipline I have just like working out, eating healthy, writing with more regularity because that’s how goals are accomplished.  You don’t go out and achieve glory the first time you aim for it.  You have to be at it for a bit to hone it and create good habits before something bites.  And you have to have your wits about you when something bites for safety reasons.  I guess I also don’t like to be embarrassed and there’s a big play there around that too because people seem to enjoy watching someone be shamed for something natural like wanting to trust or love.

I grew up amongst suspicious people – who were right.  I have always had a weird sixth sense – which ends up right.  I guess most people see romantic movies and believe “The Notebook” can happen to them and it does.  I watch Manchester-By-the-Sea and find that more likely.