A melon has three layers: the hard shell, the sweet fruit, and the messy, gooey seeds. In order to taste the sweetness of the fruit, the shell needs to be cut and the seeds need to be scooped out. The same goes for the heart. In order to taste the sweetness, you need to crack open the shell and deal with the messiness that resides inside.
When I walked into my therapist’s office, she was ready for me.
Over the last eight months together I talked about everything but the shooting. Whenever she asked about the shooting I told her I wasn’t ready to process it yet. She knew this day would eventually come. She had anticipated it. The day my anger shell would crack and the grief of the shooting would come out.
I sat down and looked at her.
“How are you feeling?” she asked.
“Surprisingly better,” I replied.
“What are you feeling?” she asked.
“I feel betrayed,” I answered. “We all trusted them to keep our kids safe and they didn’t. School is supposed to be safe. I sent my child to school and I assumed he was safe. We all trusted the sheriff department to protect our kids and now those kids are dead and the rest of our kids will never be the same. They took an oath to serve and protect and they didn’t protect our kids that day. I trusted them with my son -my son who is an ACTUAL gift to me. We all trusted them! How could they let this happen? Why didn’t they have a better plan? Why didn’t they follow up on the warnings? Why didn’t they have videos that worked in real time? Why didn’t they run into the building like the unarmed teachers? They could have stopped the shooting or at least they could have died trying to stop him. That’s what the dead teachers did. The teachers without a gun ran into the school and got kids out of the building to safety!”
My tears started welling up again and she shook her head in agreement with me as she held back her own tears. My tears were filled with sadness instead of the anger I carried for so long.
The shell finally broke and it was a relief to put words to the anger I had been carrying.
Betrayal, hurt, and distrust would describe the anger within the majority of our community and the anger that stirred in my heart. But my anger wasn’t just about the shooting. It was the culmination of the move, my publisher, the ‘me too’ movement, my community, and the pastor at our former church. And once I was able to name what I was feeling, the wind in my anger storm died down.
Friends, this post was very difficult to write. I’ve written it, edited it, deleted it, and re written it several times. I thought about just ending the series with the last post. But that wouldn’t tell you my whole anger journey. I wanted to tell you so much more about what went horribly wrong that day and why we all feel betrayed. But, it would be too much and that is not what I want for this post.
What I want you to understand is that underneath my anger shell was a bucket load of emotions I needed to recognize and process. For several months I didn’t think I had a right to process the trauma of the shooting. I thought I wasn’t effected by the trauma because my son came home that night. However, everyone’s impact of the trauma is different from another person’s impact, but everyone has a right to process the trauma of the shooting in his or her own way.
My therapist didn’t force me to deal with the anger. She asked and then waited until I was ready. And when my anger shell broke, she helped me pick up the pieces.
Below is a quote which brings healing to my soul.
Anger that is associated with trauma is an indication of melting or thawing. It is a positive sign that the energy trapped during the traumatic experience is trying to find a way to be expressed, ultimately resolving itself. It is also a positive sign that one’s sense of self that was damaged during the trauma is growing back.
Check back next week and I’ll share about how I’m living now as a result of the trauma. It’s a new way of looking at, and living, life.
Blessings to you my friend!
The Small Town Girl