Being shot changed everything for me. Everything I knew, everything that was normal, my work, my marriage, my love life, my connections to people, everything. It’s hard to wrap your brain around something like that. In a way it is tragic. But it could also be seen or recognized as a time for a bit of a rebirth. At least that’s where I am taking it now. I thought I would write about the five stages of grief. My five stages. It seems appropriate to my situation, so here we go:
Denial of the whole incident started before I even hit the ground that night. Before I saw my blood running into the gutter, I already had thoughts that I was paralyzed and didn’t want to believe any of it was really happening. I wasn’t scared per se, it was more of a serene knowingness of my condition. Even then it was hard to take.
These thoughts were still with me even as we entered the hospital. I woke up the next day knowing exactly what had happened. There were a few visitors and every one of them cried. I told them not to, of course. I tried to be a big man and take it, but inside I knew that I was about to break down. Big time.
My bout of anger didn’t last very long. Admittedly, I was pretty angry at first. My life was going well at the time of the shooting. I had a decent job with a great company, made average money for my field of work, had a good marriage to a beautiful woman, and was finally ready to start a family in the coming months. Life was good. And it was taken away. Taken by a cowardly kid who thought killing someone might somehow be better than receiving a beat down from one of his intended victims.
I was pissed. I wanted nothing more than to hurt the guys that had hurt me. I wanted to fuck their lives like they had fucked mine. Then I realized it would do no good. And my brain felt better.
As soon as I was able to let go of the anger, I allowed myself a bit of a break. By then I was in limbo, wondering why it was me who had to be shot that night. Why I had to be the one paralyzed and useless, unable to even help myself piss or shit. What if Dave and I had waited five more minutes to show up to the party? What if we had played one more song that night? What if we had been in my truck and just pulled away when we saw the two guys headed our direction? It was all that and more. Much more. Why me? The question. It’s a horrible place to be, wondering. Sinking.
There was definitely a time when I felt unimportant. Not unloved, not at all. But useless. In the way. A hindrance to everyone in my immediate vicinity. It didn’t matter if it was my wife or my family. I felt numb. My wife, Lyra, and I had decided to end our 15 year marriage around this time. It was a joint decision, but hurt like hell. We loved one another and didn’t know what else to do. We did what we thought was right: to give each other a chance at sanity. Even though we had made the joint decision to do it, there was still a feeling of loneliness and a sense of abandonment. Not the case, but that’s where my head was at the time. And it only got worse.
Only a couple of people know this: I tried to kill myself (kind of). It was after I had been sick for a few weeks. I had a terrible infection that eventually turned into a horrible condition (I would later be hospitalized for having a pressure ulcer on my back, down near my ass). I felt like I was dead already, so I figured why not just end it?
My weapon of choice was a gigantic pair of scissors that I’d had for years. They’re made completely of metal and measure about a foot long. They’d do the trick. I positioned them in such a way that they were wedged against a tray on my chair and my chest. My plan was to plunge myself forward, stopping my heart. As I sat there, all I could think about was my then ex-wife and my roommate (and good friend), John. I didn’t think it would be fair for either of them to find me. I didn’t think it would be fair for anyone to find me. And finally, I thought of myself as being remembered as a coward. Never in my life had I been a coward, at least I don’t think so. So I let loose of the scissors and (I think) let them fall to the floor.
I took a cigarette from my desktop, and rolled slowly outside onto my deck. I smoked and thought I had made a good decision. I haven’t thought about killing myself since. And doubt I ever will again.
It’s been about a year since I was put into the hospital for treatment of my wound (naturally occurring, not self-inflicted). As I have healed physically, I have also healed immensely mentally. I’m actually glad that I’ve had this time to reflect on everything that I’ve ever done wrong in my life, bad decisions, my past, my future. I’ve done many things in my short time here, and achieved more than I ever thought I would so far. And it’s not over. I’m not dead. I may not be able to move as much as I used to, but I can do just as much as I used to… and more. There are many things I want to do. There’s still time for kids, or travel, or a novel. There’s still art in the world. There are still beautiful girls walking around beautiful neighborhoods smiling beautiful smiles all over the place. There’s still fun to be had, friends to be made, and knowledge to be known. Lastly, there’s still love out there… and that’s enough for me.