On nights like this, I don’t want to sleep. I don’t know if it’s a visceral reaction from my teenage years, or if it’s from staying up until 4:30 am after watching my sisters be murdered. Trying to avoid nightmares. I took my first drink at 16 when I was staying up late to avoid the nightmare. I ran right into it anyway. Alcohol always made my depression worse, not better.
I don’t understand at times why I am given this particular life to fit into. I get to pick up this well-fitted, soft leather jacket of a life, and find it suddenly transformed to a military uniform. How does that work? How do I start with gentility and end up with war?
I just have so many thoughts racing around, and I’m tired. Tired from not sleeping well last night. Tired from unrest. Tired from the cruel attack of the world, the strange assault that the universe has taken on little old me. Why, why, why me? Universe, tell me. I don’t understand.
I’m sorry, friends… I haven’t explained at all why I am running around in my head so much. It feels cruel to even type the words. I haven’t been at home the last two nights, because my neighbor decided it was a good idea to randomly fire a gun. And I do mean randomly. He would come outside of his apartment, fire his gun off, then go back inside. My bedroom shared a wall with him.
I left last night after hearing gunshots. Last night, I was judging myself. I thought maybe I was just hearing things. As a victim of traumatic gun violence, sounds make me twitchy anyways. Maybe I heard the wrong thing. Maybe I was just mistaken. Maybe it was the sticky front door to my apartment house. Maybe I was just being a bother to my dear “recovery parents” who were kind enough to come and get me when I freaked out after hearing a gun fired so close.
But I came back this morning around 10:30am to find the streets around my apartment barricaded, and I immediately knew I wasn’t wrong. I was NOT wrong and there had been a gun fired.
In my apartment building.
IN THE APARTMENT NEXT TO MINE.
I just don’t understand it. I don’t get it. After watching my sisters die in a horrific shooting. After then having a former student overseas die in a horrific shooting (a student who in fact gave me the teddy bear I sleep with til this day). After THEN having a friend in the theater in Aurora last year. Now this? And as my friend mentioned today, a divorce, estrangement from parents, school, poverty, and 12 step recovery to boot.
I had to make a 911 call to police about gunfire. I was asked awful questions, questions about knowing where the weapon was. No, I didn’t see the weapon. That doesn’t make it any less dangerous. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t just in my closet for 5 minutes, hiding to save my life. That doesn’t mean that making this phone call was easy – taking on the same role I had when my sisters died – that of 911 response.
I get to realize that when I was waking up at 4am or so the last couple months and thinking in my half-awake brain that I heard gunfire – I had. I had heard gunfire. I was correct. It wasn’t just my 4am traumatized brain thinking that was what I heard. It was real.
And that gunfire came from a neighbor I had been avoiding because he was just a little off.
I get phone calls from friends asking if I’m okay because they saw the story on the news. Hurray. Something involving a shooting, and me, is on the news. Again.
Oh and then I turn on the news to find out what’s going on, because for awhile I didn’t have my computer. What do I see? A tragic shooting in Washington D.C. There was no way I could watch it. I put on HGTV for most of the rest of the afternoon.
There is good in this. There is. My sweet “recovery family” who, without knowing it, put themselves in harms’ way to come rescue me last night, and their insistence they would do it again. They have no idea what they mean to me and I am eternally grateful. I don’t suppose words could describe what kind of gratefulness I have about that. And my “recovery mom” went back with me to my apartment to get things, and I am convinced I would have fallen apart without her there. I was already a shaking, upset mess, trying to make sense to the homicide detective. I think that was the worst part. Standing there, shaking.
Then my therapist who was both kind and incredulous when he called me back earlier after the message I left. Who said he was “really, really, really, really glad” I was physically safe, and that he had hoped the universe would work with me while in my healing journey. And then my other friend who was right there with me when I saw the barricade, and when I started falling apart in front of police who probably thought I was crazy, and who listened to me curse profusely while she took me to my “recovery family’s” house.
But I’m still angry.
And tonight I want the world to go away. Somehow, I can make that happen by staying awake. I don’t understand why my brain thinks that way, but it does.