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Shooting, Guns, Safe Havens, Self-Awareness | Santa Monica, June 5th

The Santa Monica killing rampage that occurred on June 5th was literally very close to home. I live and work (home office) at 21st and California Street; the rampage occurred about 8 short blocks from my office in a community that always, up until now, has felt very safe. Maybe it has felt overly safe or falsely safe. Of course, there are certain areas in Santa Monica where everyone knows not to walk at night, but these are very few and very demarcated. It has been a wonderful place to raise my now 22 year-old son, who graduated from Samohi (Santa Monica High School) in 2008.

The alleged killer John Zawahri, now himself dead, appears to have gone to Samohi and would have been 2 years ahead of my son at school. This brings the event even closer to home. As a mom and as a type Two mom, I moved to Santa Monica because it had such great public schools, but also because it was such a warm, supportive, and eclectic environment.

Just about anything is OK here as long as your hedges are not too high and your water is not polluted. And as of the last 6 months, they are trying to disallow any smoking in your home, within 20 feet of your front door, and you get a ticket for smoking on a public beach. Most streets have limited or no parking, and the parking meter stewards patrol the streets multiple times per day, even on holidays. All of the above can be annoying, but we put up with the restrictions for the freedom, diversity in every way (which is fun and stimulating), and wonderful weather.

Then the bubble gets broken on June 5th. Helicopters swirling overhead, multiple innocent people dead and even more injured. People were simply doing what we all do every day: driving their cars, taking their kids somewhere, studying for finals, going to work. Oh, my! He apparently kills his brother and father, their house goes up in flames; he shoots at people who are just around and kills some of them; carjacks a petrified woman and makes her drive, but eventually lets her go; shoots the windows out of a public bus; shoots at more people; and finally ends up at Santa Monica City College (8 blocks from my house) where he kills several others, runs into the library, and eventually after trying to kill many students, is shot by the police.

This may be too soon for me to reflect on my responses from the type Two perspective, but here’s a try, stimulated by an April 24th (2013) blog we posted by Peter O’Hanrahan on somatic advice for Twos. A particular section caught my attention because it rang so true and I had not really thought of it quite this way before.

“Twos have so much empathy that other people’s moods, needs, or disapproval can go right into their bodies and take over their breathing and their internal state. They have lots (lots!) more mirror neurons than your average human being. Such a great resource, yet it puts Twos at risk for being “outside” their own bodies.”

Where I went with this was to recognize some particular ways in which I do this. I am so very visual and also highly kinesthetic that when something really positive or negative occurs to someone I identify with in any way (I don’t even need to know the person), I see them in my mind, then immediately feel their experience in my body (or at least, I feel as if I am experiencing it, even if it may, at times, get confused with my own feelings). For example, when one of my clients from Sun Microsystems was killed as a passenger in the Boston flight that went into the Twin Towers in New York, I actually experienced myself as if I were Phil Rosenzweig (my client) in that airplane and the terror I imagined he felt. It took me months to shake that experience; I can remember it all, even as I write because his face comes back in my mind. And I think this is part of what Peter meant when he wrote about the emotional/somatic sensitivity of Twos.

Back to Santa Monica and the rampage, my primary emotion is sorrow, deep sorrow. I feel very sad for the mother of the killer, who apparently was divorced from her husband and out of the country at the time. She’s lost one innocent son and one not innocent at all. I imagine how sad she must feel and how self-recriminating she is likely to feel. Where did she go wrong as a parent? Why didn’t she see this coming, especially since the killer apparently lived with her?

I feel the sorrow of the loved ones of those who were killed as innocent bystanders. Their pain seems as if it will be everlasting. Why? Just at the wrong place at the wrong time! I am under their skin, walking in their shoes.

I feel the anguish and pain of all the innocent bystanders, those still alive whose lives will be forever changed. I feel the pain and angst of my son and all his friends who love Santa Monica and who might have been victims were they simply there at the wrong time. Some of them may have known the killer when he was at the high school, or perhaps some of their older siblings were in classes with him. Such close proximity to such events is unnerving and painful, and I feel that, almost as if I were in the skin of all my son’s friends.

This is the burden of the Two, or at least this Two. What has also gotten me curious is that in the 9/11 experience, I felt anxiety more than sadness because I imagined Phil from the time he realized what was happening until the time it was all over. He was a really smart and terribly sweet person. With the killing rampage, my primary feeling is sadness for everyone except the killer. Anxiety is only there for the woman who was car-jacked and had to drive the killer on his spree or be killed herself. What is she thinking? Should she have just rammed her car into a wall killing both herself and the killer and saved all the victims? But she couldn’t have known.

One remaining question is this: where is my anger? Sorrow, yes! Anxiety, some. But no anger! I guess I have more work to do on myself!

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