I have written quite a lot about the shootings that took place in Connecticut last Friday but to be very honest, I had absolutely no intent on even listening to a single news story on the event. I had heard of the shootings in the car on the way to pick up a friend and once I heard it, I told myself I was going to make the best of the day, talk about it as little as possible, commiserate as appropriate but then make sure to not expose myself to any details. I didn’t want to be able to picture it in my head because once I have a visual representation of something, I find it a lot harder to move my mind in a different direction. However, even though I have made plans before in my mind of ways to avoid some of the awful events we hear way too frequently, there are times when I simply cannot escape.
What do you do when you truly cannot avoid something? Well, that answer is probably different for everyone but I can tell you a little bit about how I have been dealing with this most recent tragedy. On Friday and Saturday, I honestly did not turn on the television that much and if I did, I knew the exact channel I wanted to watch beforehand so I wouldn’t have to flip through and see coverage of events that I did not want to hear about. I had DVDs by my side when I needed some down time also. I quickly learned that checking my email on the computer meant that I would see things that I knew would be too difficult so I have been using my phone instead. I have been trying to delete anything off of facebook that shows candles or photographs of any of the victims. Again, I know from so many past experiences that if I can picture someone or an event in my mind, it is far worse for me emotionally.
I made the mistake of saying something to my dad on Sunday night about what happened at the elementary school because it sparked him to tell me what he already thought I knew which was how the victims were forced to raise their hands (literally that is the extent of my knowledge) and once I heard that I asked him to stop speaking about it.
When I sat down on Sunday night to watch the Patriots play the 49ers, I did it with much relief knowing that I could focus on the game and leave behind some of the more serious news for a few hours. I was incredibly taken aback when the football game was interrupted by President Obama’s speech. Not because I was so hell bent on watching every single second of the game, but because I thought that I found a full proof way to distract myself from the harsh realities of life. I just felt like this tragedy was in a way, following me, no matter how hard I tried to get away from it. I just could not escape what happened.
I know we can’t avoid life. I know there are so many horrible things in this world and it is unhealthy to escape from them. I know it is not good to live in a protective bubble. I do know that. But sometimes I just want to get away from all of the horrible things that happen in this world. Sometimes I just want to pretend like something didn’t happen, or that something terrible isn’t currently going on.
I have had to deal with too much of the bad stuff in life that I feel like I need to shelter myself from anything else. I have said many times to my parents and recently to my therapist that I feel like I am incapable of handling another negative thing.
I know rationally that I am not incapable of it. I know that it is just that I don’t want to have to deal with anything else negative. Often I feel like I have had to deal with enough trauma for ten people’s lives so I should be given some sort of “get out of negativity free” card or something.
But life doesn’t work like that. We are all going to be faced with things we don’t want to deal with. We are all going to be met with challenges we wish we didn’t have to worry about. We are all going to hear stories and events that we are going to try so hard to avoid but can’t.
…That is life.