Let me just preface this whole self-involved bit of prattle by saying please, be kind to one another, please. Please be aware that mental health issues are serious. Please avoid violence where you can, and know that when I prattle endlessly it isn’t that I’m avoiding things, I’m just trying to find my thought. My heart and thoughts go out to all the victims of last year’s shooting.
Last year I went to a Batman movie marathon, that had a midnight opening of The Dark Knight Rises. That sentence all by itself tells you I’m kind of a dork, I like Batman, and I can sit still in a room full of stinky fans for a long time.
All of those basics are pretty true. All of those things are true of what happened last year. What is also true is that last year is that about five miles away from where I saw three Batman movies in a row, a really horrible horrible horrible incident took place. I have to emphasize that I was not hurt. I wasn’t there, I was nearby, and as the audience was leaving our theater and talking and murmuring about the movies we’d just seen there was some chatter about something happening, but it was light – it wouldn’t be until the next morning that I would really understand how bad it was, how truly horribly bad.
People from where I worked at the time had been at the Century 16 where the shootings took place. There were people I knew that had been injured, but not shot, and the media coverage was all encompassing. If there was a detail any of us missed, it was brought up again and again and again, and once more, and then repeated. It is easy to say it was like Columbine, but for me it was different. I mean I stayed up to all hours and I watched every single second of news coverage, I went to the point where my eyes itched and I cried and I cried, and my stomach hurt. That part was almost exactly like Columbine for me, what was different was how I wanted to tell everyone I was fine.
I’m fine, I feel fine, I’m not scared, everything is fine. With the Columbine shooting I was terrified not for me, but for my son. Would I raise a son capable of that kind of violence? I read books, books, so many books to regulate and look out for signs of anti-social behavior, autism violence, Mother’s that do not bond properly, all kinds of shit that I was doing wrong. Every once in a while I still worry about it, I still worry that I’ve ruined my son and something horrible I’ve done will cause him to do something awful in the future. That won’t happen because he is amazing, but that fear is there. There every day.
But with the Aurora theater shooting last year I wanted everything to be fine. FINE. I wasn’t there, so I wasn’t in danger. I wasn’t scared. Everything was fine. It has become clear to me in a couple ways in this last year that I’m not really fine, and that a lot of times I have been scared. There are times when someone will sit behind me in a theater, or sometimes on the bus, or really anywhere, and I will get up and just move. I’ve convinced myself that this is because they are noisy, it isn’t. I have stayed home and not gone out because I couldn’t get anyone to go to the movies, to dinner, for a walk with me. I keep telling everyone this is because I am all lonely, that I don’t like to see movies alone or some other excuse. But truly, I’ve been scared. It is so stupid, because I wasn’t hurt, I wasn’t in the theater where people were shot, I’m not in danger.
Tonight I asked my family to go to the movies with me, I wanted to go do one of my favorite things, and loud horrible people sat behind me and I didn’t move. I’m not sure that is a win so much as just a compromise and an awareness of my issues – but I did it. I am not sure I feel less stupid, but I do feel like I’m aware of my stupidity, and I suppose that is somewhere on the road to being fine, on the road to getting back my favorite things.
Today there were memorials everywhere, there was a couple that got married to erase their fears, people get better. Time moves on, and if everyone else can be fine, I can be fine. So enough of my self-involved blathering, enough, let’s all just be fine, and be kind.