The most traumatic event of my life happened in May of 1986, on the last night of my first year of college, on Long Island (further years were not on Long Island), while I sat in the corner of my dorm, hoping that the flimsy door would hold up. It was not the darkest night of my life (that honor came on a night almost three years later), but it was a night that sent my mental and emotional life in a completely new direction, and in whose shadow I still live 28-plus years later.
The summer after it happened, I went to see a psychiatrist because I was having nightmares. His response was: “So what do you want me to do?”
Four years later, I told the story in a group therapy session. Most of the people in the group didn’t believe it.
I won’t bore you with the story. I finally wrote it all down about fifteen years ago. I couched it in terms of fiction, but everything I wrote happened or were my dreams about it.
My mind has been replaying that night for the past few nights as I’ve been trying to get to sleep. I don’t know why exactly, because even though that night affected my emotions so, I try not to think about it and, for the most part, succeed. In addition, my mind has been getting me to look at it in a new light.
The only way I’ve lived with this really and not have it drive me completely insane was to convince myself that I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. My drowsy mind has been re-evaluating that conclusion and tonight, while I was having a massage, it kept turning over in my head. I couldn’t stop it. And now, I begin to wonder if maybe I didn’t somehow deserve it. Because I was studying a lot, because I was trying to learn, because I didn’t really get into the partying scene that was rampant on the hall, did I set myself up as a target? And might I not have deserved it if the herd (as I called my hallmates in the aforementioned story) chose to shoot at the target?
Most of me believes that’s nonsense. But there is a small but growing part that says that I brought it on myself. Maybe I did, and maybe my fucked-up life is my own damn fault.