Since Saturday afternoon, I have seen my hometown in print every day. I grew up in El Paso, and was stunned to have the city pushed into my awareness by a tragic event. And I can’t help but wonder if tragedy is a feedback loop onto itself because this tragic event has thrown me back into my own trauma history with the daily reminder of where I lived as a child. It is not lost on me that an argument can be made that this can be seen as self-centered with the real loss of life that just happened.
And, yet, I still find myself stuck in some way every time I see the news since the weekend. I’ve lived in the Northwest and the Northeast of this country since I left El Paso many years ago. By design, I’ve endeavored to be as far away as possible. It’s truly not the city’s fault that I am not a fan. Though I can’t help but associate my feelings with El Paso as it is where a lot of stuff happened. To be clear, I am not aware of the entirety of my experience. But I know enough to know that it was traumatic.
This past weekend I was at an event where I was asked about my family with insistence that I must have support from family members. I responded by saying, “Certain family members-I regularly look up their arrest record to keep track of them as it is public information in Texas.” That put an abrupt end to the inquiry.
And now I have to stop writing because it is too much.
I was going to “like” this post then realized that while it’s good you share your pain, this is also a painful post to read. It is a truth that things happen, and things happen that we as individuals have no control over, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect us individually. It’s NORMAL that being bombarded with news about El Paso would trigger memories and feelings for you. Imagine how it’s triggering memories and feelings for other people from El Paso who no longer live there — for whatever reason. El Paso itself is not the cause of trauma, but people who live there. The shooter wasn’t even from there — he was from Dallas. When you start to feel overwhelmed by the news, ask yourself, “what do I have control over?” You cannot control the news, but you can control your decision about whether or not to listen to it. You can control what you think of it, and how you feel about it. Turn it off. I hope that you are doing much better a week later. You have the strength, the power, and the control over yourself to choose how you think and feel about something. I get very frustrated with news outlets that spend so much time harping on how people should feel about what’s happened or telling us how to interpret it. I regularly turn off the news, especially when the reports are about anything about the president. I am sorry that you’ve had to deal with this El Paso news in an additional way, not only for its horror that we’ve had yet another shooting motivated by hate. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Take care.
Part of us never leaves home; no matter how hard we try. It shapes us and defines us, so I am not surprised something like this smacks you to the core. I am sorry that it was this type of tragedy that brings it to the surface.