Marie is a survivor. She’s a victim of the Paris attacks that happened on the 13th November 2015, as she was in The Bataclan watching a show with her friend R. Her friend did not survive.
Friday the 13th November 2015, my friend Marie is invited by R., her long term girlfriend’s best friend, to go to the Eagles of Death Metal gig at the Bataclan, in the eleventh district of Paris, where I was living at that time. Her first reaction is to refuse, because she doesn’t care about this band and she’s tired from working all week. Finally she accepts, because she really likes R. and they don’t get the chance to hang out that often. They are at the show, drinking bad beer and taking selfies that Marie posts on Facebook. An hour later, the band is playing on stage when a loud bang surprises the crowd. She thinks it’s fireworks, that it’s part of the show. Suddenly the band runs off stage, another bang and it’s chaotic in the pit, where they fall on the floor. She falls on people. Because she’s big she’s afraid of hurting them. R. fell kind of into her arms. She keeps thinking everything is ok, she sees stains of light. Her gaze shifts and she sees a guy wearing weapons, with an automatic gun along his body. It’s all blur. She loses it, weeps a bit, then gathers herself together. R. is touching his upper leg and she realizes that he is wounded.
extrait du journal écrit en HP
This is the items that Marie had with her on the night of the attack : the receipt of the coat room from the Bataclan, and her wallet. She threw away everything else she had or was wearing that evening, but from then always carries these two items with her, like a talisman.
After the attacks, Marie looked in every hospital for her friend R. As the media were saying the names of the victims during the whole week, she was searching for him with the help of a friend. She already knew but she could not say it. The Friday they learned from a morgue that he has passed away. Her girlfriend S. stayed with his family to grief and show her support, sending text messages to Marie. She didn’t tell her she loved her and was glad she was alive. Marie felt S. would have preferred if she had died instead of him. She was traumatized, lonely and guilty to be alive. The day before R.’s funeral I called Marie to see if she needed anything and she was alone. I went to sleep over at hers. R.’s family excluded her from their grieving process. Her girlfriend split up with her right after the events because she could not face her.
Since the attack Marie takes sleeping tablets and anti depressant medication. She can sleep only for a few hours at a time and keeps waking up, and being in a constant state of tension she’s constantly tired. I took this picture as she was waking up from an afternoon nap. The entire time she was asleep she held this position with her arm up the wall, which is the position she had during the 3h40 that lasted the attack, while laying on the floor in the Bataclan . She now only sleeps in this position.
« I always had the feeling that I wasn’t allowed to suffer, that I had to go through something really intense to earn this right. But actually you’re never allowed to suffer. Whatever happens, your suffering is inconvenient for other people. At the same time it makes sense, because it’s unsolvable. When you’re presenting to people a problem that is impossible to solve, they panic. You’re just sending them this reflection that they are useless, so no doubt no one wants to hear your story. There is no solution.”
It’s not easy to autorise oneself to be a victim without shutting one self into this role. You have to be a victim but also courageous, you have to overcome the pain but allow it at the same time. They are a lot of contradictory injunctions. People tell you to listen to your feelings, to get help, but these same people tell you to move forward and take action.
When you’re constantly tired because your whole body is in a perpetual tension as a result of the post traumatic stress disorder and people tell you ‘of course you’re exhausted, you do work a lot!’, they’re not acknowledging what’s really going on. They want to rationalise your pain. But you can’t rationalise a terrorist attack. »
It’s been complicated for Marie since then to be in public spaces. As soon as she walks into a space, she looks for the exit.
The Post Traumatic Stress as a sequel of the attack is not only psychological. It has also modified Marie’s body functions and she has to get analyses done regularly.
Marie adopted her dog Biche a month after the attacks. She takes her everywhere with her, in the subway, to the gay bar where she hangs with her friends, and even to work. Biche is so essential to Marie’s life that even when she’s dreaming, her dog is always by her side. Marie says that Biche is like an organ of hers.
It was a struggle to get out in the street after the 13th November, as she developed agoraphobia. Slowly Marie is taking her life back.
Marie hangs out in queer political spaces since decades. She’s wearing a badge saying ‘grosse’, which means ‘fat’. She’s involved in Gras Politique, a queer association that fights against fat phobia.
Marie lost her job right after the second anniversary of the attacks, in November 2017. As her anxiety was kicking approaching closer to the date, she went in a psychiatric hospital for a month. She was scared she would kill herself. Back in her appartement, she survives due to the financial help of the survivor fund. She’s still fighting to get some money from the unemployed well fare fund and to prove that the loss of her job is related to the attacks of November 2015.