Two things. First, I was not as “dumb” about guns as I thought and you people are even more awesomer than I thought.
Again, when I first got my gun I knew nothing. Not a thing, we all know that. The problem was since I didn’t know anyone who had guns I turned to the internet and by the grace of god I found the most brilliant people around, that was good, very good. But, the thing was as I read blog after blog of brilliance I felt more and more awful about my lack of knowledge on self defense/reliance. I was in a way isolated and that gave me a false sense of self. In the beginning all that exposure was great, but as guilt crept in my mind about not taking care of my daughter every little thing magnified that guilt and I ended up spinning myself way up and drawing conclusions that just weren’t true.
Last night I drove to Lorton, VA to assist John in his Handgun 101 class. He used to teach this class, but stopped for while. Due to demand he recently brought it back. Handgun 101 is the basic “first” steps class that all brand new shooters should take. I never took one of those courses.
As I have been working with new students, I have learned that 99.9% have no idea about firearms and as hard as it is to believe many know less than I did. Doesn’t matter if they are male or female. Doesn’t matter how smart or self reliant they are. Doesn’t matter if they grew up around(around them, not with them as a part of their life style) guns. The people who come to Handgun 101 are literally starting from ground zero, like I was.
This is good on so many levels. The classes are maxed out, so that means not only are more people continuing to enter the world of guns they are taking responsibility to do it right. That’s neat and all, but this is about me, so here is the real neat thing, by teaching them I am learning that I wasn’t so dumb after all. I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.(Yes, Old NFO I do remember you telling me that once or twice or hundred times)
The people who take our classes are not stupid people nor do they lack common sense. We have engineers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, housewives, even many military people. Last night we had a wonderful young man whose father is a retired police officer, but our young student didn’t know much about guns or how to shoot. That was the thing all of them had in common…they just did not know what they did not know.
You know what else they have in common? They all think they are the only one. They think they are the worst most incompetent one in the class. They believe that the whole rest of the world has at least some level of knowledge pertaining to firearms. Guess what? They are all wrong. Some pick it up quicker or seem to have a more natural tendency for it, but pretty much in the basic class the skill level is about the same(not true for the more advanced classes. There we see more varied skill levels). That skill level is close to nill.
From what I can tell, outside of the range, these are very confident, self assured people, but hand them a gun and they turn into nervous self doubting people. Many of whom are so nervous they can not follow or remember basic instructions. This is not a criticism, it is an observation. One that I think is helpful in a lot of ways and not just to me. Also one that will be obvious to many in this group, but not so obvious to others.
For one it gives credence to the notion that getting out there and meeting other people is a good thing. Yes, before you are ready and yes before you have a clue. Once you stop isolating yourself you realize you are not all that unique and life is much easier. There are plenty of other people who are or were in the same exact boat. I was absolutely convinced I was the most uneducated person on guns that ever lived. This is not true. I have discovered that in fact while I was clueless I never struggled with many issues that others do. Of course, some of them grasp things much quicker than I did . Like DA/SA. It appears that I am very unique in that aspect. Apparently I am the only one who couldn’t get that, but I’v come to terms with it. You just don’t know what you don’t know. There is no frame of reference for most folks when it comes to guns. The lack of confidence and abundance of fear comes not from lack of intelligence, but of experience.
It also shows that once again guilt has zero benefit in your life. After E made her declaration and I had to stop living in my pretend world of all is well, the amount of guilt I felt was overwhelming and still to this day creeps in. Regardless of how many times I was told I was doing fine, to let it go, that I could forgive myself, that I was not a total idiot, that I wasn’t alone, I still wrestled with guilt continually. My brain was stuck in “your the worst mother to ever live” mode. The guilt allowed me to make huge leaps in my conclusions about myself. Conclusions that were neither helpful nor true. If you read those beginning posts I talk about being afraid and there is some emotion, but mostly I was in my pretned dream world and so mostly I was progressing and loving it and not caring so much that I was clueless. However, later when I faced the reality of not taking care of my daughter the post become more emotional and disjointed and irrational. I jumped from I don’t know about guns to I shouldn’t even be allowed to have children. At least that is how I felt inside.
I have written before about guilt and how destructive it is in a person’s life and how I have focused an enormous amount of energy in overcoming mine. I knew it was important for me so that I could ultimately be a better mommy to my kiddo. So that god forbid I find myself in that situation again I would most certainly be able to deal with it better, but also just on the day to day level of being the kind of mother my children need. A guilt ridden parent is not a good one. Guilt clouds your judgement, makes you more emotional, more sensitive, and more negative. It’s not good. The best advice I can give you is; if you have guilt about anything, whatever you have done or think you have done, no matter how awful you think it was or actually was…LET IT GO.
Your not alone. Your not helping yourself or anyone else, and there is absolutely no benefit found in that place. LET IT GO.
Second, lets move onto the you are awesomer part(or really awesome for those that prefer the correct usage of the English language).
I know that some people find my Open Letter over the top and melodramtic(I know this because from time to time I will get an email saying so or the fine folks at Reddit like to recycle it from time to time and share their thoughts on how nutty I am), but it is the most sincere thing I have ever written and I am a mighty sincere person.
I look at some of the posts I wrote and think wow, that chick was all kinds of wack-a, but when I look at the comments all I see are people who offered total support(and people who 18 months later are still here). I am sure someone along the line thought to say something not so nice, but graciously abstained. Not a single person said, Gee, lady your not the only person to ever screw up, move on.(Ok, Old NFO called me once and Arete might have eluded to it a time or two, but that was much later and still in a very loving way and plus it’s what I needed to hear) That was, actually has been, so incredibly valuable. To publicly go through the healing process of shame and guilt could have been a disastrous one, but for me, it was a lifesaver. In addition to my private support I had all of you. It’s mushy, it’s girly, it’s been said before, but honestly, what a blessing.
For those of you who say, The gun community isn’t a community or not all gun owners are nice or “she” could say that about any group, or lots of people find support in a variety of places, I say…
1. It is a community. Community is defined as, a social unit larger than a small village that shares common values. Sounds about like what is going on here. The gunny community is a place that I spend my time with a group of like minded folks that are supportive and kind. Doesn’t mean exactly alike or that there are no differences of opinion, but basically we are bound together by a love of firearms and a desire to take more responsibility for ourselves while encourage others to do the same and lots of other cool stuff.
2. If you are a gun owner that is either not nice or doesn’t like me then I am not talking about you.
3. True, I am sure others can say they found similar kindness in other places, but I didn’t. I found it here. I didn’t find it at church or inside my extended family or with my anti gun friends. I found it here and to my knowledge everyone else that comes here looking for knowledge and/or support has also found it.
In summary, if you do not know a thing about guns, you are not stupid. Relax. Do not stress. You are not the first and we love you all the same. You will get it. You will be fine. Trust me.
If you are letting guilt or fear or anything hold you back, LET IT GO. You don’t know what you don’t know and if you know it now, stop finding ways to hold on to it…LET IT GO.
And, guns are cool. Gun people are cool. Just give into it. Become a gunny. The water is fine. Your gonna like it here.