Editor’s Note: Our thoughts are with everyone effected in the events in Paris. We stand in solidarity with those who promote freedom and peace.
I sat on my couch this past Friday evening and watched the events in Paris unfold along with the rest of the world. With my laptop appropriately in my lap, I refreshed Reddit’s live feed and gave my mom updates faster than the BBC newscaster could report them. We joked about how I should just call in and read from the Reddit feed, but mostly we said things like “Oh my God” and “That’s fucking crazy”.
Earlier in the day I had been in downtown Chicago for traffic court (I won, in case you were concerned) and there had been a protest for something outside of City Hall. I thought about that and started to do what we all do: What if terrorists had attacked that group? Or, more specifically, what if they had attacked me?
It’s completely narcissistic, but we all do it. We place ourselves in whatever the latest tragedy is and think about how we would handle it. What would we do? Who would we call? Would we be heroes or would we collapse under the pressure of survival? We personalize these events that have nothing to do with us as a way of understanding things we will probably never encounter. I get this; it makes sense. What I’m trying to figure out is why this makes me so angry.
Grief and I have a strange relationship. It started at 8 years old when my dad died, and just escalated from there. Grief is a private thing for me, and I learned that early on. I don’t need funerals, or memorials, or group cry sessions. They make me uncomfortable and cause more anger than anything.
When I was younger I felt like people enjoyed being sad, and that’s why they’d jump on any tragic bandwagon just to make the horrible event about them. I know now that this isn’t the case; most people get through the tough things together. I know how to respect that now, but I still have a hard time stomaching it.
I avoided Facebook today because I know there would be post after post about Paris. On a global level, this is as it should be. We should be talking about this, just like we should be talking about mass shootings, or any other crimes against humanity. We need to band together to show that as a global community we’re not broken, and that we can stand strong for those who aren’t able to right now.
I’m shaken along with everyone else. It’s terrifying, I’m enraged, and I can’t begin to express my sympathies to all who are involved. And yet, I can’t stop this knee-jerk reaction I have to say, “Oh FUCK YOU STOP MAKING THIS ABOUT YOURSELF” to a Facebook friend who said something about praying that good overcomes evil or some shit like that.
Why am I like this? Why am I such a fucking cunt when it comes to tragedy? Maybe I can’t process it the same way as everyone else can. Maybe I was scarred at an early age and now can only cope alone in my dark bedroom by myself. Rob Lowe made a comment about France closing their borders and it’s 100% awful BUT I STILL LAUGHED. My God, what’s wrong with me?
It also might have something to do with the fact that I’m an empath and I feel things on a level that most people cannot fathom. This might be my self-preservation defenses kicking in because if I were to truly take in the weight of sadness people are feeling right now, I’d be in the fetal position. Either way, I feel like a horrible fucking person sometimes for not participating in the communal emotion festival.
But then I really have to step back and remember what I tell myself whenever a “prayer request” makes my skin crawl: Grief is part of the human experience, and we all do it in different ways. There’s no wrong way to deal with sadness and tragedy as long as you’re not causing more pain in the process. I promise I’ll continue put out warm and comforting vibes into the universe in my own, private way if you promise not to make me go to a candlelight vigil.