Shot at Tucson: Healing Through Typing
By Ashleigh Burroughs on February 25, 2011
(Editor's Note: Blogger Ashleigh Burroughs was shot at Rep. Gabby Gifford's Tuscon media event in January. She is now recovering at home.)
It occurs to me that my best therapists may be unaware of the importance of their role in my life. Since I like to think of myself as a thoughtful person, as one who lets people know when I think that they have been wonderful, this concerns me. Allow me to rectify the situation forthwith:
The media frenzy left me physically drained and mentally exhausted and strangely comforted. Sometimes shocking, sometimes comforting, always provocative... the process of explaining myself in soundbites led me to evaluate my situation in ways I might not have considered without the questioning.
Forced to be concise, I became precise. I thought about my words before I said them. I talked to everyone, telling the same stories over and over again. I was never alone and I hardly slept -- there were always opportunities to think out loud. By the time I left the hospital and was able to speak to reporters, I had the teflon version down pat.
It was boring. Almost immediately it felt static, as if I were going to be there forever. Stuck.
I freaked out. I hurt and I was scared and I was on TV and in the newspapers but it was the same old same old and I didn't like it at all. Not one tiny bit. Was this really me?
At the time, I hadn't noticed that my recovery would not be linear, that it would be more like climbing a long flight of stairs. The risers are of different heights and the steps are of different widths and woods. Sometimes the transitions are easy and I don't even have to hold up my skirt as I move on. Sometimes it hurts enough to make me cry. But I am always moving on. At the time, though, I didn't know that. I thought that this was my new normal.
And then I read your comments. You were proud of me. You were glad I was okay. You were encouraging as you shared your personal experiences and your words of wisdom, and I reveled in the love. I thought I was whining, but you thought I was open and honest. Someone thought I was wise. I couldn't imagine a higher compliment.
I didn't ask to be the face of the tragedy. My focus was on my body, my perforated, punctuated, slit up the middle body. I came to Nellie-the-Notebook when I could, rarely meeting my self-imposed 6am deadline, and you told me that it didn't matter. You laughed and you cried and there were a lot of you, many many many more of you than there had been before Christina and Gabby and Gabe and Ron and Mr. Stoddard and the others and I were shot. You weren't creepy stalkers; you were genuinely concerned.
And somewhere along about the end of January, I realized that I was going to heal and that you were going to help me. I recognized that your presence was forcing me to concentrate on the process. The more you listened, the more I thought and the deeper I went, being honest and paying attention as my fingers told a story that my heart had yet to hear.
It's a funny thing, writing a personal blog which suddenly becomes intensely introspective and intensely public all at the same time. Without readers, it's a diary. With readers, it's a conversation, an experience shared among equals.
It's the least expensive and most intense therapy I've gotten.
And it seems to be working the best.
So, from my heart to your eyes, I say:
a/b from The Burrow at http://ashleighburroughs.blogspot.com
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