I have been quiet the past few days, in trying to process the horrible news out of Colorado and my own reactions I have been quiet. No, not entirely quite but more quiet than is my norm. Some people who know me well have asked when I was going to jump into my normal forums with both feet and all ten fingers, others have asked why my Facebook page isn’t full of condemnation (there are a few comments). Instead, I have stayed mostly quiet.
Why you might ask, it is a good question. I am not the quiet type; in fact, I am a bit of a firebrand most days. I admit to being quite outspoken on some issues. There are issues in the public domain that chap my ass, cause me great anger and some sleepless nights. Truthfully, there are many such issues these days.
I don’t want to talk about politics though, not today. I don’t want to talk about the public domain at all. I want to tell you why I have been mostly quiet, not even visiting your blogs for the last few days.
I just couldn’t.
I was paralyzed by my own personal sorrow, fear and memories.
All I could think about is how terrified those victims in Aurora must have been. All I could think about was how terrified their families must have felt while waiting for news, was it their mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife or child. All I could think about is my family when I was shot and left for dead by strangers. All I could think about was how I felt laying on the side of a road with three bullets in me, put there by strangers who were not crazy, were not insane and did not have any reason to hate me.
I was paralyzed and my voice silenced by fear and memories. Each time I tried to write, each time I tried to comment my hands would shake and my eyes would fill with tears the screen would blur, coherency lost to muteness. It has been 7,367 days since I was shot; that is a lot of days. Some days I think it is behind me, some days I don’t even think about it in the sense of bullets flying. Other days I have no choice, the repercussions of that day are with me from the moment I wake up to the moment I lay down to sleep, sometimes beyond that moment.
Aurora tied my tongue, made me mute in the face of great tragedy. More than this, I could not watch the news without my tears pooling in my eyes and streaming down my cheeks, their salt leaving a trail of bitterness in their wake. This morning I realized part of my sorrow is rooted in the great tragedy that is our national personality. That we are unable to come together even now and talk to each other without rancor, ideology and the drums of political animosity getting in the way of human decency. I saw this in my few forays on social media since Friday, each side standing their ground firmly refusing to step down from their positions even briefly to mourn the great loss of life. I backed down from the fight rather than continue.
I don’t have the heart for it not this day, not now.
I am heartbroken, partly because I was rendered mute. I didn’t know my memories were still so close to the surface. I didn’t know they could so easily shake me. I don’t know why this affected me more than other equally horrific acts of terrible violence. What I do know, we are a people that seem to ignore compassion and empathy as valued trait. I know many people on both sides of the argument who individually are wonderful human beings, who have compassion for those they know as individuals and don’t realize their words fall like hammers or fly like bullets, leaving gaping wounds. This is what demanded my silence, that I not stand my own ground even for what I believed was so desperately true, even for what was so personal.
Yes, we come together during times of tragedy, but then we turn our backs returning to our ideology and our rage with equal fervor, thus making certain the next heartbreak will occur and likely with more frequency and greater loss.