Tonight I was reminded of another thing that led to the spiral recently. It was really back to back to back when I look at how the last five months have progressed.
I've seen nearly every episode of Law and Order SVU, and never miss a new one. I just now finished tonight's episode. They're always "ripped from the headlines" but many times they're pretty obvious about what specific headline (Michael Jackson with kids, Rihanna and Chris Brown, etc). Tonight's wasn't that obvious - snipers shooting at people that Ice T's character seemed to know. Then about 15 minutes until the end I found the connection: Christopher Dorner. It was a young cop who had been discharged for psychiatric reasons with a military background who was taking revenge on the NYPD for things that had happened to her family. Spoilers aside, it ended in a manhunt and a standoff in a house. But as soon as my brain made the connection, I was on the verge of tears for the rest of the episode, when I finally just let it out.
Obviously the Dorner case made national headlines, but it was in my backyard. One of the officers killed was a USC DPS officer (not on campus, thankfully). I was fascinated by the story just because I love a good crime thriller, real or fiction. There was some crazy man on the loose that was targeting police officers and he himself was an ex-cop. A day or so into the manhunt, a news site published his "manifesto" in full on the internet. I read the whole, long story. I had the same reaction I had to the article about my former employer - I lost it. I sat there for a long time, reading this story and just crying.
I cried because I didn't see a crazy sociopath cop-killer who deserved to die. I saw me. Other people who read his letter thought he was just some crazy asshole. I read it and felt terrible, because these things happened to me. Being bullied by superiors, reporting things that were covered over or actively told I was lying about, getting blamed for things I didn't do. No one else understood that this really happens, and honestly I wasn't too far from being where he was at that point. The pictures they always showed were him smiling and people who knew him said he was very friendly and a good guy. What pictures would they show of me? I'd be smiling too. I'd be with my friends. People would say I was friendly and fun, not violent.
I checked the date on the email my friend sent with the article about my old job - January 19. Two weeks later, Christopher Dorner happened. I hadn't recovered from the first before the second blew up nearly in my face. I remember walking around campus, driving around town, hearing updates or seeing a DPS officer who looked more concerned than normal. I thought what I was feeling was wrong. How could I defend someone who was killing cops? Killing anyone for that matter? What kind of person was I that I was somewhat on his side? I didn't like to hear people talk about it. I didn't want them to say bad things about him. They didn't know. They hadn't experienced it. They probably didn't even believe it happened. Part of me wanted to give him a hug and just cry, and another part of me knew that in these circumstances, he wasn't going to live to tell his side of the story, even if it was from prison.
His problems cost him his life. They cost other people their lives. I wondered honestly how far away I was from that point. It scared me how something like this hit so close to home. Like really scared me. Of all the stories in the news, from elementary school kids getting shot to bombings of innocent people, this was the one that brought the tears, and the pain, and the anger.
I've always been someone who is very able to detach herself emotionally from situations that don't involve me. It's how I successfully prosecuted sex crimes without having it haunt my dreams, why I don't cry at most movies, and how I can see something like a school shooting, understand how awful it is and why people are so devastated, but not let those feelings get ahold of me. Apparently this is where the line is drawn.
*I'm writing all of this mostly for my own memory. As I mentioned, I can't remember many details from my time at that job. I'll forget easily why something upset me significantly a couple of days before, even though I remember feeling upset. I didn't remember this part of the progression until I saw this episode tonight - it reminded me that there were so many things recently that led up to all of this, and they're details I want to be able to relay to my doctor. If I don't write it down, by next week, I won't remember.