My chest feels empty, and when I breathe, I struggle not to start shaking and crying. I force myself to sound normal in conversation, will myself to write coherent sentences. I crave solitude and company all at once, time to process and time for comfort. It's easy to offer quick, sound-byte answers. It's easy to ask the rote questions every time something like this happens.
It's hard to just... think.
It's overwhelming. Overloading. Not the information. That I'll grab and absorb as much of as possible as quickly as possible.
It's the emotional assault. All of it, all at once, unrelenting, uninhibited, unfiltered, crashing over me and crushing me and pulling me downward and suffocating and smothering me. I can't process it. It's all of them -- the people dying, the people wounded, the people terrified, screaming, running, unable to will themselves to do anything, unsure what at all they could do, what they can do. It's the shooter. The responders. The shooter's family. The victims' families. The survivors' families. It's inescapable and unavoidable and mumbled and jumbled together; I'm terrified and disappointed and furious and lonely and grieving and resigned and shocked and waiting and desperate and sad and thankful and worried and anxious and aching allatonce. There's no logic to it. No cool, distanced objectivity. No capacity to make intellectualized arguments about the politics, the religion, the circumstances. There's only this untamed state of heart.
Language is far too inadequate a vehicle to fully describe this. But right now, it's all I have.
I'll throw myself into my writing.
If I keep myself busy, maybe I can forget.
This happens every time. The media uses the same words each time it happens. Senseless. Tragic. Horrific. Those words are so shallow now. They fail to convey even the smallest portion of what this is, what this means, how we feel. Language is too blunt and imprecise a tool.
There will be too many funerals next week, the week after, that should never have happened, shouldn't have to be planned, arranged, and paid for.
And I'm waiting. I'm waiting for it to happen. It hasn't happened yet, but I know it will.
Someone, somewhere is going to say that the killer was autistic. Or mentally ill. Or insane. Or sick in the head. His lawyers are going to take their cue from the media, from comments on the internet, from past cases, and they're going to put it into their arguments, whether or not there is any documentation about his disabilities or lack thereof.
When these things happen, there's always a second round of victims. And that's us, the neurodiverse. And we wait for it to happen because we know it will. It always does. Ableism is the inevitable byproduct of tragedy. And sometimes it comes from our own communities. I hear it from the mouths of some of my fellow Autistics, when they in the same breath reject the suggestion that a perpetrator is Autistic while declaring that he is just mentally ill. I hear it from parents, from journalists, from casual acquaintances. And every time, it cuts deeper, reopens the torrent of unidentifiable emotions mangled together in a bizarre and incomprehensible mezcla. It's a personal fitnah for me.
How can I begin to process that? I can't bring myself to read any more of the news because I dread seeing the accusation in print, in neat little quote marks where someone remarks callously, always so callously, that only someone who is mentally ill could do something so horrific and appalling.
No. No. No. Your words hurt. Your words cut and damage and taint real people's lives, real people who suffer the indignities and consequences of your ableism, real people who are denied access to education and housing and employment and even relationships because your words hurt and people don't forget.
Don't use these times to perpetuate ableism. We already suffer enough for it.
It's coming. And there's absolutely nothing that I can do to stop it except wait for my emotional crucible to overflow again and pray for respite and focus. All I want to do is weep.