Rise, Like the Dark Knight

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in the past few years is when something happens that scares you, you have three choices – try pretend it never happened, let it change you completely or face it head on for what it is.

Pretending doesn’t tend to last long and changing yourself isn’t always in your best interest.  Facing the impact can help.

Like so many others the shooting at the midnight showing of the Dark Knight Rises, shook me.  How many times have I been at a midnight showing? Heck we thought about going to this one (different city & state but still).  Could have happened anywhere.  Going to the movies is a place where you get away from life.  Leave whatever you have on your own shoulders behind & when the lights go down, you climb into the fantasy.  A hiding place of sorts.

Only at my worst was I unable to go see a movie.  Always have been one to be able to go on my own.  Gets dark, you don’t talk, what difference does it make to go with someone or not?  Course it has always been creepy to me to be in a crowded theater.  Packed in darkness with strangers.  Barely anyone noticing anything but the screen.  In those busy cases, I need two things – my klonapin & an open escape route, just in case.  Usually if I can get into the story, I can calm down & forget the other people are around.

Until the recent massacre, it always seemed one of those ridiculous quirks of dealing with the agoraphobia.  No real reason to feel it but I did.  On dates I would suck it up & try to hide the panic attack that happened the moment someone sat in a seat between me & the aisle.  (They really should have more aisles – can be a pain to have to shimmy across laps to get out if you need to!  Add in panic mode & forget any sense of grace.)  Now since the Aurora showing, the threat has become more real.  I’m not the only one suddenly considering where the exits are and who is sitting beside me.  Suddenly the cinema refuge is being questioned.

When crab mentioned today we were going to the matinee for the Dark Knight Rises my first thought was “you are on your own buddy, no way am I putting myself through all that today!” but then the braver, saner side popped up & responded with “oh yes you are! Not going to live in fear anymore.”  (no I don’t really hear voice or fight amongst myself, but you get the internal struggle).  It was something I had wanted to do.  Now I didn’t feel as safe, although everything pointed to that being a once in a lifetime fluke of an event that I shouldn’t need to worry about happening to me.  So I put my tough girl mask on & went.  He came by & we were in line to get tickets before I knew it.

Wish I could say it was a smooth 2 hours & 40 minutes – really??? how long are we going to make movies before we give intermissions?  What I can say is I made it through the entire movie & managed to get wrapped up in the story.

Panic attack? sure.  Jumping at gunshots in surround sound? you betcha.  Watching other audience members like a hawk when they got up to take a break from the film? yup.  But I also was distracted by curiousity.  What moment did the chaos start?  What would have been the final scene the audience saw?  Hoping it was a good one.  Hoping that the victims were like others and confused that the shots ringing out were part of the film & quickly slipped into the abyss beyond without too much fear.

For those who survived, I wonder will they ever be able to set foot in a movie theater again?  Will they ever decide to see the rest of the Dark Knight Rises or be able to see Batman without the fear over taking them?  Will they end up having to battle for their sanity and spend years learning to push beyond their fears to get back to some sense of who they are again?

I feel incredibly lucky to be in a place where I can face my fears.  I feel blessed that I spend another day safe.  Thankful for the calm moments and the coping skills I have gained to get me past the less easy times.  Wish I could in some way let  those who are beginning their PTSD fight know that it doesn’t get easy, but it does get better if you keep pushing.

Without giving too much away, there is inspiration in the movie.  Wish I could remember all the quotes that struck a cord.  More than once characters fall and fight mercilessly to regain strength and achieve their goals.  When the cards are down, they still get back in the game.  Resilience in spite of adversity is key.

Sincerely hoping that while respecting that this is a horrific event that impacted more lives than can be counted, we all can push through and show that it takes more than a maniac with a gun (or a few) to change us.  This is not the typical situation and there is nothing to fear.  We are a determined people and I for one and not giving into the fear.

“You see only one end to your journey. Sometimes, a man rises from the darkness.” – Alfred, the Dark Night Rises


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