December 17th, 2012
Do you guys feel like you’re just flailing in the dark? I am having a hard time, and I’ll be honest, I’m not usually a person who has a hard time with these things—not because I’m a cold-hearted snake, but because I have a way of keeping a protective shell of denial around me at all times to shield me from the actual reality of what could happen and frankly, of what has happened. A lifelong anxiety sufferer, I’ve always gone back to my cognitive behavioral therapy lessons — think about statistical probability, think about what you CAN control, think about the moment right in front of you, not the moments that may or may not (and probably won’t) come.
I do this because if I don’t, I flail in the dark and spend a lot of time thinking about how terrifying the world is. When I was first put on medication (a short-lived stint on Paxil, the devil’s med), it was years and years ago, shortly after Adam and I got engaged, and I became paralyzed with fear that something would happen to him — he would cross the street and a bus would come; mustard gas would fall from the sky; he’d choke on a South Korean chicken ball. (Bonus points if you can tell me the movie where that happened to someone.) I used to think about not having children, in part because I literally could not fathom how I would live just sending them out into the world unprotected, because all those things could happen to THEM, too, right?
I don’t know how to work through this. Adam said earlier that he doesn’t know how to digest it, and I think that’s a good word — digest. You think through things, take what you need to take, and purge the rest. I can’t figure out how to do that, so it just sits there like a rock. I keep wanting to throw up — literally — because then, what, I’ll feel better? This isn’t food poisoning. It’s not a virus that will run its course. I can’t get rid of it, and nothing I do will make it go away.
I didn’t know anyone involved. This isn’t my tragedy, and by writing this, I’m not trying to make it so or make it about me, it’s just honestly, I do not know how to process this, and I’m hoping that by writing it down, maybe I will, a little, and maybe you will and maybe some way we can get through this without losing our minds, because right now I’m not confident that’s even a possibility.
I have delayed reactions to things. I float in denial for a few days, and then bam! I can’t get it out of my head. I’m there now, right as everyone else is at least attempting to return to normal. While everyone else is returning to normal, I am just sinking into the pit.
What gets me about tragedies like this is the awful way it makes me — and I’m imagining, other people — think. Everyone’s hugging their babies a little tighter, grateful for them; but what it really feels like is thanking God that someone else’s babies were taken instead of yours. “Thank God they didn’t go to MY kid’s classroom,” we all think in moments of weakness.
And that’s when it starts feeling really sick. Like the reaping is upon us and if we have to choose — if this is the price of living in our world — let it be someone else who has to do without. The completely understandable, sickening selfishness we’re all reduced to is what keeps me up at night. I blame no one for thinking this way, as I do, too, and I hate it. I hate it. I hate feeling grateful for what I have at the cost of someone else, but I don’t know how else to think. I don’t know what else to think about. I don’t want to see your instagram picture of how grateful you are to hug your babies, because someone else isn’t, and that feels shitty, but at the same time? I need to see it. I need to hug my kids, I need to reassure myself that it can’t happen, even though it’s a total lie.
I don’t know how to thank God without a desperate anger about what happened to someone else. God works in mysterious ways, they say, but right now, I’m feeling kind of like screaming, hey fuck that shit, this is crap, and we don’t have to put up with it. Where is management? Who can I talk to about this experience? I want a do-over, a refund, a guarantee. I want a guarantee! Where is my fucking guarantee? I didn’t sign up for this.
Columbine, September 11 and this — three events that cost me so little in terms of collateral damage, but so much in innocence lost. This. This is the hardest in some ways — after 9/11, there was a certain xenophobic false sense of safety; an us vs. them situation, the ability to move forward drawn from the realization that the calls, at least, were not coming from inside the house. Columbine, a little tougher — disillusioned and disenfranchised high school students lashing out the only place they knew how. But this? I got nothing here. I got a kid — a random kid — shooting up LITTLE kids, and this time. This time, I’m a parent, and it’s not to say I care more about humanity than I did before, it’s that I can visualize, with greater clarity, exactly what those kids were like.
Before my children were born, my knowledge of a six-year-old was hardly intimate — a fleeting stage of my nephews that happened in an instant and was quickly forgotten. I could pretend a six-year-old had little knowledge of what was happening. I can’t anymore. I know exactly, in intimate detail, what kids that age are like.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to look. Shit, I don’t even know who to pray to or what for, because I’m so angry that this was allowed to happen. I don’t know where to put this anger and I don’t even know if what I’m saying is right or sensitive or appropriate or any of those things, I just don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how to get up and live in a world where this shit just HAPPENS and we’re supposed to carry on with our lives without throwing up from pure terror. We’re just supposed to DEAL with it, and no one asked us if that was okay.
Help me figure out what to do. I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m lost, and I’ll bet you are too.
*Uh, Fun. Also, I did not edit this. At all.
Entry Filed under: Gettin' thinky with it