Today in church these thoughts went through my mind, “What if a shooter comes in here and opens fire? Will I cover my husband’s body with my own? Will I grab that child sitting in front of me, and lay on top of her? I hope that I will do something, anything, brave and courageous.”
We aren’t big sports fans in our house, but we have a couple of teams that we follow, the team that represents our city, and the team that plays for the college my husband went to. One of our teams made it into a college bowl, and I immediately called my husband and said, “Do you want me to get 3 tickets or 4?” As I was waiting for my husband to reply, I thought about being in the stadium with a large group of people. Again, I thought about the possibility of a mass shooting.
Every day my husband goes to work on a military base. Once I was there with him, and there was a lock down because someone reported a shooter. We were in a different area than the report, so it wasn’t terrifying, but it was worrisome thinking of all the people we know whose offices were in the location of the reported shooter. (Everything turned out to be okay).
A few weeks ago, there was an active shooter in the building next to mine. I hid in my bathroom until the police evacuated me from my home. You can read about the incident here.
I know that I have a mental illness and that I tend to be paranoid, worried, and at times get morbid or disturbing ideas in my head (this is why I try not to watch anything too scary or gruesome on Netflix or at the movies) but there have been two events in my life that involved shooters. That can’t really be paranoia or my mental illness if it has been a reality in my life (not once, but twice).
It would be easy to let my thoughts overtake me on this issue. It would be easy to stop going to events where large numbers of people gather. I could get so fearful that I ask my husband to change jobs (he wouldn’t, but I could make him miserable with my fear and overprotectiveness).
I believe that I have to work through many parts of my mental illness (thoughts) in order to live the most productive life I can, and to enjoy life to the extent that I am capable. So today I came up with something to help me cope with all the random violence surrounding each and every one of us.
My husband and I decided when we got married to never go to bed angry at each other. In the almost eighteen years that we have been married, we have only failed at this once. There was only one time when we went to sleep before working out the anger we felt toward one another. I think of that as a pretty good record.
Today, right now, we are adopting something new into our relationship. We have promised each other never to separate from each other while we are mad, or unhappy with each other. In other words, before he goes to work, or before one of us runs an errand, or goes out to be with friends, we need to look each other in the eyes and tell each other that we love each other without anger, or without hard feelings.
There is only so much I can control on a daily basis. I can’t control the fact that terrible things happen to good people, and that it is possible, that one day we will be the good people something terrible happens to. I can’t control the fact that we could be the victims of a tragedy, but I can control the last words my husband hears before he walks out the door. I can control how many hugs I give him before he leaves our house. I can make sure I kiss his lips and tell him that he is the most important person in my world. Yes, I can control the knowledge he has about my love – that is something he can carry with him where ever he goes and in whatever circumstance he finds himself in. What I can control, I will, and that will help keep me sane in a world that seems to have lost so much of its sanity.