Video: Patience Murray’s road to champion six years after Pulse Nightclub massacre

In an interview with theGrio, Patience Murray chronicles her recovery from a mass shooting at a popular gay club in 2016

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Six years ago, a girls’ night out for then-20-year-old Patience Carter and her friends at Pulse Nightclub ended in a deadly mass shooting.

Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old man, on June 12, 2016 brought an AR-15 into the popular gay club in Orlando, Florida and opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring at least 53 others, according to CNN.

The youngest victim in the massacre was Akyra Murray, who was 18 years old and a friend of Carter’s.

Akyra Murray (Photo Courtesy of Patience Murray)

Carter and another friend, Tiara Parker, survived the shooting after suffering gunshot wounds. During her road to healing, Carter became Patience Murray in 2019 when she married Akyra Murray’s brother, Alex Murray.

The couple was united in grief, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In an interview with theGrio, Patience Murray described the moment she was trapped in the bathroom with the gunman for three hours before police arrived, eventually killing him.

“We were sitting in the stall with close to 20 other people, and one person in there was already shot, Murray said.

Patience Carter was hospitalized in 2016 after the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting. (Courtesy of Patience Murray)

“Each and every second felt like it was becoming more and more terrifying because the longer we stayed in there, the longer he tormented us with his words, saying little things like, ‘Did you hear about the Charleston shooting?'”

Over the course of the three hours, Mateen revealed his state of mind to the hostages he had taken in the bathroom, Murray said.

“That became even more terrifying because it was so sporadic,” she recalled. “You just didn’t know why this person was here, why they were doing what they were doing and what all of us had to do in this wrath.”

Murray also opened up about what it took to be able to comfortably recount the events of that night and obtain the state of peace that she now enjoys today.

Honestly, it took a lot of failing to get to this place,” Murray said. “Throughout the course of years since the shooting happened, I’ve fallen into many dark pits of where I felt like I just did not want to go on because the mystery of why I survived, or how am I supposed to help people? My lack of clarity on that made me feel worthless because I felt like I wasn’t figuring it out.”

People oftentimes express how Murray’s strength and confidence have inspired them. However, there was a time when it made Murray feel inauthentic because she thought of herself as a victim who was barely making it through each day.

“I felt like by me painting this picture of me being this strong survivor who can just sit down and talk about this story for hours, it wasn’t necessarily true because each time that did happen, I would spiral into having these modes of like with PTSD and thinking about the shooting and thinking about how scared I really do feel each and every day,” she said.

Patience Murray graduated from New York University. (Courtesy of Patience Murray)

Murray described going from moments of feeling strong to moments of feeling weak before she was able to learn to reach what she said was a “mode of rest.”

“Resting in this place of being in a champion mindset, of feeling like I’m good and I can be there for others,” she said.

It’s natural for many to refer to Murray as a survivor of a mass shooting, but she defines herself as a Pulse champion, a statement that can be seen across her social media platforms. A motivational video inspired this change.

The video said that being labeled a victim implies one is still broken, while the survivor label implies one is barely getting by, Murray said.

Patience Murray on set with her book “Survive Then Live” (Courtesy of Patience Murray)

“I’m a champion because I faced extreme challenges and succeeded. So call me champion,” she said. “I started to reframe how I was looking at myself and how I was looking at the pain that I experienced and realized that I don’t necessarily have to attach myself to this pain that I went through.

Murray said that there are days when she is filled with fear and anxiety. In those moments, she relies on her faith and God.

“God did not give me a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline and that is truth for me. And that’s what I’ll rely on, even in the moments when I feel afraid.”

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