I have watched one war movie my entire life, Saving Private Ryan. My husband was going through Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico Virginia and a bunch of Marines were off to see it and he wanted to join them. I didn’t want to see it but I love my husband, he was working crazy hours, we had a new baby and it was rare that we had a night out, so we went.
It was one of the most profound events I have ever experienced. Of course I cried through the entire thing, but I was with a bunch of big tough Marines, and I didn’t want to be the dramatic 20 something girl balling, so I was very, very quiet. When the lights came on and I looked around, I saw that the entire room of big tough Marines also had tears streaming down their faces and the place was totally silent. As we walked out of the theater, I remember looking at the faces of the people waiting to go in and they looked stunned. I think the looks on our faces was a profound statement on what they were about to see. I literally did not speak for hours. I didn’t say a word. I had no idea what to say after watching that movie.
My husband had been a Marine for a while by the time he got to OCS as he was prior enlisted and he had seen combat, but it was easier for me to pretend he was simply off to camp hanging with the boys than allowing myself to think about what he was doing. That movie made it impossible for me to pretend any longer and I hated that.
I have not watched a single war movie since.
I am not a movie or TV person in anyway. I know everyone says that, but truly I am not. If you know me then you know this to be true and if you don’t, you can ask one of my friends and they will tell you. I have always been of the mind set that I would rather be out doing something cool or fun or crazy as opposed to watching someone else do it, but when I do watch a movie or television program, I have very strict standards. It can’t be sad, no one can die, I don’t want to think and I do not want to cry. Oh, and it can’t be scary. That pretty much leaves Bill Murray movies.
I have a great life and am truly happy, but life can be very sad and scary and full of all kinds of issues that weigh heavy on my heart, so when I want an escape, I like to escape to happy places.
Guess what you can’t do when trying to prepare your mind for self defense…pretend. Nope, you have to be fully cognizant of all the awful things out in the world and then come up with a plan on how you can combat it.
In fact, they call it the combat mind. My first exposure was at my gun training and those awful, awful videos of real life surveillance of real life people being brutalized. I hated those videos and I was a bit annoyed and pretty darn mad that the instructor showed them without a bit of warning and I thought it was a bit over the top. I was there to learn how to shoot a gun, not have my mind messed with. Of course I learned at that course and many time since that it is hard to prepare you mind for self defense when you are in denial and think the whole world just needs a hug.
In contrast to Saving Private Ryan where I forced myself to block the images out of my mind, I have consciously forced my mind to replay those videos in my mind over and over again. For years, I stopped reading the newspaper or watching the news because I did not want to know all the awful things that were happening, but now I force myself to read the newspaper and watch the news and be aware of all the awfulness that surrounds me.
In my gun class the instructor talked about the movie The Outlaw Josie Wales. He said the main character had the right mind set and he quoted him “When things get bad, you gotta get mean. I mean plum mad dog mean.” This was not a guy that was going to be a victim.
For Mother’s Day my husband bought me the movie and I finally had the courage to watch it last night.
I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but I was surprised that I was able to watch it without running from the room crying. Now, this is really not a particularity violent or gory movie, but I once turned off City Slickers when the guy in the tent is holding the gun and talking about his best and worst day. Seriously, I do not do violence.
I liked the movie. I loved the guns. I would like to say that after watching it, I could identify with the main character, with his tough bravado and dead on gun shooting abilities, but that is not me, not yet. I identified more with the old Indian friend. At the beginning, Josie Wales sneaks up behind the Indian and the Indian goes on to explain that he is easy to sneak up on because he is so nice. Later as the movie progresses, the Indian is able to sneak up Josie, and he is feeling pretty good. He even says, “I am getting better.” Then out of nowhere a gun pops up behind his head. The Indian girl snuck up on him and he hangs his head in frustration. He doesn’t hang his head for long and soon he is back out there, shoot em’ up and even saving Josie’s back side from time to time.
I practice and read and prepare my mind and I think “yeah, I am getting this thing.” Then I read a story about a robbery in our town and get scared again and I hang my head in frustration. I don’t stay there long either, but it definitely is a two steps forward, one step back kind of process for me.
Still, I can feel mind my changing. Instead of watching someone brutalize someone else and me feeling sick to my stomach for the person being brutalized and wondering what on earth would make a person do something like that, last night when I watched as the group of thugs began to gang rape this poor young woman, I got mad and thought, “I sure as heck, hope he kills them!” and I didn’t even feel bad for thinking it.
When I go to the range, I always shoot the targets with the bulls-eye on them or some other arbitrary image. I never get the targets with people on. I don’t like the idea of shooting people. I have still been pretending.
I am heading to the range today. I am not going to get a target with circles and cross hairs, I am going to get one with a face and I am gonna practice being mean, I mean plum, mad dog mean.