This has been a post I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time but I’ve put it off for a couple reasons. One reason, it’s a painful unpleasant memory. The other reason, I don’t want to point fingers or make anyone feel bad, that isn’t my intention. I feel like it is however a part of my experience that I want to share. So here it is.
The shooting wasn’t just hard on me ,obviously, it was hard on our school and our community. People outside of our school and community were also affected. It affected friends and family of all those involved deeply, on many different levels. As friends we often help each other through tough times. It is an interesting balance that has to happen when you have experienced a traumatic event together. To try to help and support each other in the aftermath can be tricky. Different people have different responses to their individual experience and then have different ways of coping and working through it. It can be hard to help others and help yourself but often the two go hand in hand. My friends were trying their best to help me while they also helped themselves. More often than not they did what they could to be sensitive and patient. I have a lot of good memories from that time in my life. I was blessed to have a lot of good friends. However I do recall, quite clearly, the day that I felt like they told me they were done being sensitive and patient, that my burden had become too heavy for them. It may not have been what was intended but it was how I interpreted it.
We had gathered as a group at one of the friends houses. We had been there a while before it was suggested we watch a movie. Three movies were selected for us to vote on. One of the movies was a horror movie. I had never been a fan of horror movies but the shooting had intensified my desire to avoid them. I had a hard time sleeping and in order to prevent as many nightmares as possible I had to be really careful to not watch anything that was scary or violent. I also wouldn’t promote watching something that glorified violence and gore as entertainment. I announced before the vote was taken, that if the horror movie was chosen, I would leave the party. I half expected that the horror film would be removed from the selection, but it wasn’t. The vote was taken and to my dismay the horror movie was the popular choice. It felt as if my friends had actually voted for me to leave the party. It hurt. It hurt that they couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to watch that particular movie or at least they didn’t care to. It sent the distinct message, to me, that they were done helping me with my baggage, they were done being understanding and patient, they just wanted to be carefree teenagers again.
I did as I said I would and left the party. I had two friends that followed me out. I felt like they were the only ones who didn’t betray me that night. It was hard for me to accept. It isn’t something I have really talked about because it hurt me so much. I felt as though I had become a painful reminder of something everyone wanted to forget. I withdrew a little from the rest of my friends after that night. I depended a lot, on the friends who had left with me that night, for continued understanding and support.
As I have looked back on this day I have realized a few things. We were all trying to get by. I expected people to know and understand what things would be difficult for me and respect that. They didn’t have the same experience as me or the same response so my expectations weren’t entirely realistic. I understand why my friends did what they did. I don’t even think they fully understood what they had done to me on a personal level. They may not have even fully understood why I was so opposed to watching that particular movie. We were a bunch of kids trying to make sense of something that didn’t make sense and do our best to survive it. I understand, it doesn’t make it right, but I understand. Me and my burdens were heavy and so were theirs. They were just trying to get by.
On a side note it took me a long time to think of a title for this post. I thought maybe, “Girls are mean and self-absorbed and boys are cowards driven by hormones” but that may be somewhat offensive if you don’t fully understand my sense of humor. It would also take a lot more explanation than I care to go into.