I had a series of four nightmares this evening. Each flowed immediately into the next, and I woke after the fourth. I felt I learned something from them, and felt compelled to write them down and share them.
I was in a supermarket. Suddenly a barrel fell from the ceiling and people started to scream. The lid blew off, and then cans like beans started to shoot into the air, one every five seconds or so. Each flew to a different corner of the store and exploded – sending shrapnel through the air. I began to run away and each time one exploded I wondered if I’d been hit, and then continued to run. I ran down a hall, around a corner and down a flight of stairs. I thought I had survived. A can ricocheted off the walls behind me. I was terrified, and then I died.
I reemerged as an investigator after the attack. We marveled at how this thing was made. How someone had spent so much time thought making something to terrify, and kill people. We could not figure out how it had worked.
I was coming home to my apartment building. Many people stood nearby and because the code to enter our building wasn’t working. After trying many times, I somehow managed to make it work. I exited the elevator. As I did a person was in front of me and they were armed. I was too. They aimed their gun at me and started to shoot. I was terrified. I pulled my gun and started to shoot back, firing several times. We both missed and I took cover behind a wall. I heard a shout. A friend of mine was there and had been shot by this person, but was still alive. I rolled back around the corner onto one knee, took aim as this person shot at me, and squeezed the trigger several times. I was scared but forced myself to aim after each shot. It was a long distance for a pistol shot.
The last two rounds hit and the person went down. I went over to my friend who was frightened but okay. We felt like our world was shattered and I walked the streets alone that night trying to put it all back together and could not. My gun did not make me feel safer as I walked.
I became a girl working as a barista. She was lonely, and felt resentment to the people around her who she thought were not. She carried a gun. She decided she would shoot the next person she saw. The next person she saw was a blond girl. She started to follow her. The dream ended.
I was hiking in the woods with my dog. It was winter and late in the afternoon. Another dog came from behind and attacked us. My dog and the other dog chased each other in circles around me, gnashing teeth and barking. The attacking dog broke through some ice and started drowning. My dog jumped in behind that dog to help it and started to drown as well. I waded in waist deep in the water. It was icy cold and I knew I might have just killed myself slowly (letting myself get wet far from home in the cold). I grabbed the dog that attacked us first, by the scruff, and hauled it out of the water. I grabbed my dog next and climbed out of the water with her. My dog became able to speak with me and it was not out of the ordinary to me. She told me to find the stove in my bag and start it and I did. As I did I pulled out the stove I found just enough extra clothing to stay warm enough, as well as a blanket for each of the dogs. I started the stove and it began to boil water. My dog and I knew we had he just barely survived the day. The dog that attacked us was no longer trying to hurt us. I woke up.
When I woke it was still dark. It still is dark right now as I am writing. It is the middle of the night, and I’ve been up a couple hours now. The air is just warm enough, the breeze is light, the half-moon is beautiful, the stairs are floating like gems, and the ocean is softly crashing. I am safe and blessed to be safe and alive.
Without attempting to speak for anyone who has experienced real violence, I awoke feeling that anyone who has survived this type of violence has had their world shattered in a way. Victims and witnesses of mass shootings, refugees fleeing their homes from war, police officers and soldiers in war…etc. They have all had their illusions of safety blown away.
I woke up wanting to buy a gun. As I thought about it I realized that for me, carrying a gun was agreeing that the world was violent and dangerous, and so having one would make me feel unsafe. I felt it would make me feel like I was evaluating everything around me as a source of danger. The thought made me feel that I’d rather believe the world was not like this, while trying to make it so, and that I’d rather die if I was wrong than live like that. I still wonder if I’ll change my mind.
Every bomb dropped in the world shatters people’s notions of safety. When people don’t feel safe, they reach for weapons, in their minds and with their hands. We will not truly be safe in this world until we break the circle of violence.
Today is 365 days after my accident. I’ve been paralyzed for one year. I find it hard to understand that.