Forget the post I had planned. I can hardly focus to write. Like others, I'm sitting with a mishmash of feelings about the horrifying happenings in San Bernardino. Another mass shooting emphasizing why many are referring to the culmination of these despicable acts as the "new norm" here in America.
So how are you reacting to yet another similar atrocity? Getting angry, or feeling confused? Overtaken by sadness or spinning into despair? Shutting down the feeling part of the brain to get through the day? Grieving a time when you didn't live in fear?
The fear is rational. We all know that any of those innocent victims could have been someone we love. It could have been us. People start to consider, whether consciously or not, how they will feel safe and protect their loved ones amidst this national temporary insanity. To explain the phrase I'm using here, the temporary part refers to the incidents of mass shootings. I have to believe it won't continue like this. It can't. As for the word insanity, I toss out an unpopular view among some of my therapist colleagues and say that the perpetrator's actions are not so simply explained by mental illness. They make a deliberate choice to practice evil by inflicting pain, suffering and death among their fellow human beings.
So if we feel afraid of the people who make deadly choices they win, right? Seems simple enough, but our feelings are real, and while we don't want fear to rule, we need to manage rather than suppress it. We can do this in part by talking about it and seeking comfort and guidance from those we trust, and by keeping our passions and routines alive. We can connect to whomever or whatever we believe is bigger than us, bigger than all of this. We can choose to refuel and take care of our need to live with both physical and emotional safety. These two are like close partners; one might be able to exist on some level without the other, but it just wouldn't feel right.
The line between living with a general sense of security and that of fear can be thin during times like this, so we have to veer toward one side. Trauma-based fear particularly shifts our life perspective and impacts our typical ability to cope, but with quality care and support, this change is usually temporary. In ordinary life we can learn to live in a place of relaxed awareness. I choose to not have my life governed by fear, so I won't attempt to walk a thin line that wavers like a tightrope. I'm no trapeze artist. Instead I'll stay on the ground whenever possible and stroll along a path that is colorful and widely paved.