It’s been a week since the Route 91 Harvest shooting in Las Vegas. I still haven’t been unable to completely wrap my mind around the tragedy that struck that night and has continued to endure in the days since. I think for me, it’s re-triggered a lot of own PTSD-related issues because one of the worst nights of my life started with drinks at a country bar.
Fast-forward to earlier this year when I looked at buying tickets to the Route 91 festival and I feel like I’m experiencing many of the same bouts of panic and fight or flight moments that people who were in that arena did that night. I have survivor’s guilt that I didn’t die in the car accident that night…I have survivor’s guilt that I wasn’t in attendance at a concert I was like 80% dead-set on going to.
It’s a weird thing to explain to someone who hasn’t lived through an extreme trauma, but I guess the best way to relay it is that even the slightest, most insignificant thing can reignite sensations associated with a traumatic experience. Over the years I’ve tried to re-associate things like: alcohol, country music, crowds, going out at night…and so much more. Each of these things would remind me of what happened and send me into a tizzy of stress and anxiety.
Right after my trauma I stopped drinking cold turkey because even the smell of alcohol would give me a panic attack. I refused to drive for a while, until it became burdensome to ask everyone to pick me up and drop me off like a child, so I had to re-learn how to drive since I hadn’t touched a car in months. There were so many things I couldn’t even look, see, or touch because they’d remind me of that night.
I guess what I’m saying is living life after a trauma is difficult, but it’s not impossible. I titled this post ‘tenacity,’ because I think that’s what it’s taken to continue living. Survivor’s guilt is such a real thing that it makes you question how and why you’re still breathing. It has kept me up many nights and unexpectedly woken me up from dead sleeps. The night terrors and cold sweats are so real, and something I haven’t had in several years…until last week.
It’s like I was reliving my own nightmare over and over again. I’ve read in several accounts of people who were at Route 91 that they “can’t stop thinking about xyz.” That’s normal. The replaying and trying to rework a different outcome in your head…totally normal, but absolutely futile because you can’t undo the past (believe me, I’ve tried).
I don’t think enough people talk about life after a trauma. It’s taboo to say you’re “broken” or “dwelling on the past.” I’m here to say I’m still not fucking over what happened to me and things like what happened in Las Vegas just reaffirmed that even though I wasn’t physically there that night, I’m still affected by what happened.
I’m affected by the close friends I knew who were there. I’m affected by the fact I was almost in that crowd, but for whatever reason, wasn’t. I’m affected because my own traumas from years ago are so intricately tied to who I am that I can’t shake them at the drop of a hat.
I’m writing this post to let anyone know reading it, if you’re dealing with something, you’re not alone. The world is a scary, ugly, frightening place at times…but that doesn’t mean you have to constantly live in a state of fear.
I spent many years living so withdrawn and uneasy, it’s only been a matter of a year or so that I’ve been able to collect myself enough to resume life as it sort of was back then. I know I’ll never resume life exactly as it was, but I’ve adjusted.
You adjust because you have to survive. You adjust because life keeps on going and you either get with the program or gtfo (that’s how the saying goes, right?).
It’s been a minute since I’ve done a personal reflection on here, but it’s like 99% of what started this blog. The book reviews and beauty products are my distractions and what I enjoy doing, but really, this blog is a living record of a California girl trying to keep it together even when I feel like everything is falling apart.
So while this may not be a #MotivationMonday post of sorts, I hope it brings comfort to someone on the other end of a phone or computer screen.
On that note, off to make some sense of some law school readings before class.