I Left My Heart in Vegas
On October 1st, 2017, America experienced one of the deadliest mass shootings of our time. It was absolutely devastating, anger provoking and shocking to say the least. Many people were at the concert and experienced complete chaos, heartbreak and terror- some of these people never made it out alive and some had to witness a loved one die in their arms. My heart continues to break for them and their families- I simply cannot imagine.
I also know that there were many people on the strip that night close to the event that experienced a myriad of emotions themselves. I know because I was a block away from the concert venue that dark Sunday when a crowd came running and told us there was an active shooter and that we needed to run for cover.
They say the odds of being close to a terrorist** attack are extremely low, but even more striking in my case is that I was also a block away from the Boston marathon bombing when that occurred. Unbelievable, right?! I know- I feel the same way.
The details of my stories are not what I want to highlight here, but the feelings I felt are exactly what I want to as it relates to tragedy and trauma. During both events, the facts took hours to come to light and we were in survival mode. For example, in Vegas the first accounts were that there were multiple shooters in several different venues, including the one we were hiding in that night. So, during the few hours of chaos, uncertainty and unpredictability I felt scared for my life and for the life of my friends, frantic, sad, paranoid, anxious, and the need to right all my wrongs. I’ve also felt shame, guilt, sadness, despair, anger, exhaustion, anxiety, hypervigilance and physical pain in the aftermath of both of these events. I’m sure that there are many more that I can’t think of right now, but you get the point. Practically every emotion, I felt it. I say this jokingly, but in all seriousness… when you watch The Walking Dead again, things become a lot more clear. Survival mode brings out the best and worst in people. Sometimes in yourself.
Some people have called me unlucky, and others have said it’s an odd blessing with some sort of meaning from the universe. I’ve also had people say they’d never go anywhere again, ask me how I “got over” the bombing and how I will rebound from the Vegas attack. I’ve had some people launch into clinical mode when they hear, and others give me straight pity. I’ve had some that pry for every little detail when it’s uncomfortable and I’ve had some of those most important to me not say anything at all.
Tragedy and trauma are weird. Complicated. And, most of all, confusing as hell. Everything you’ve ever read about tragedy and trauma theory go out the door when it happens to you. Every human goes through these experiences differently. Every tragedy is full of nuances. Everyone you are with during these events will process differently on some level. Things change, life changes, and in some ways you are forever changed. However you may be processing and grieving is ok, although it may feel awful. It’s what we do with this that matters- how we pick up the broken pieces of ourselves. How we find our “new normal”.
I want to take some time in the next few blog articles to address various themes within the frame of tragedy and trauma including how we mend our broken pieces. My aim is that the articles will be helpful for loved ones caring for those who have experienced trauma, as well as those who have been immediately affected. I hope that each segment will provide some clarity, perspective and hope in the midst of your situation wherever you are with whatever you may be experiencing in your life.
Sending you all love and light…
**Terrorist- I call any killer this regardless of any, or no, affiliations.