9-11

911MemorialMuseum

 

Today is the anniversary of one of the most horrible tragedies our nation has suffered and hopefully the worst that I will have to witness in my lifetime.  It’s almost unimaginable to think that 13 years have gone by since that cool, crisp September morning when NYC was under attack and I had to run for cover.  Thankfully, back then, I was healthy and could run and walk on my own. I often wonder what would have happened to me that morning if I had to rely on the kindness of others to protect me.

Many people were saved that morning because of the help of fire fighters, ambulance workers, police men and just plain old every day goodhearted citizens, but thousands of others weren’t so lucky and many of the ones that didn’t perish that morning were damaged emotionally  in ways that others can’t even imagine.

I won’t relive that morning, as I did it in my post on my blog a year ago, but I still felt it needed mention.  As a result of that day, many, many, many people’s lives were effected and unfortunately changed for the worse.  I know 2 people who worked in the towers and managed to escape and I know 1 person who was downtown that morning working in another building, and like me had to run for cover.  This last person is the one who emotionally has suffered the most and since that day, has never been the same.

Why is it that she has suffered the worst, when she hadn’t worked in the WTC.  We all saw horrific things that morning if we were by the Towers, but why is it that some of us have recovered emotionally and others haven’t.  To me this has to do with our mindset as we approached the day.

After witnessing the horrible events of that day, we all were in shock, and it took all of us time to process what had happened, to grieve for the people who lost there lives and the ones that lost their loved ones and then to heal.  But some people don’t heal, why?

Since 9-11, we’ve learned a lot about the brain and about suffering.  Trauma disrupts the balance of feeling, memory and decision-making in our brain and all these parts need time and care to come back into balance. Research has shown that even in the face of unimaginable tragedy and despite the fact that we will always remember what happened, emotional balance for many victims can return to normal within 2 years. This is a great cause for hope.  But what about the people whose brains don’t return to normal within 2 years, is there still hope for them?   We’ve also learned over the course of the last 13 years that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, affects not just the immediate victims of violence,  but also bystanders and witnesses.

In order to heal and recover, we must face our inner wounds and choose to fight them.  The alternative is to deny them, but then our suffering will continue and the healing process will be delayed.

My friend is working very hard to fight her inner wounds, but they are very deep and very severe, and unfortunately after 13 years, they are still there.  She has been crying since yesterday for the life she lost and for the person that never returned home from work the same.  I hope she is able to slay her demons (or at least tame them) this year and that the next time 9-11 rolls around on the calendar, it doesn’t have such a hold on her.

 

Freedom

freedomtowerslant

Freedom means different things to different people.  One of the actual definitions of freedom is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint”.  Taking that definition literally, I guess one could say I am not free as I can’t act as I want without hindrance or restraint.  Maybe it’s not an external hindrance, but my body is not free.

Yesterday,  my body held out long enough so that I was able to get to the new Freedom Tower in downtown Manhattan.  It wasn’t easy to arrange this, but  but a friend drove me there and dropped me at the farthest point you were able to drive and I was able to walk the few hundred steps to actually touch the Memorial.  From my earlier posts, I mentioned I was down there that morning on 9/11 when the unimaginable happened.

It was very moving and quite overwhelming.  I haven’t been down to the Wall Street area since I was fired from my job and had to go on disability.  I don’t know which memories were stronger, but they were all mixed in my mind.  My previous life on Wall Street and the destruction of the World Trade Center.  Both are very emotional and overwhelming on their own, add to it my vulnerability of being limited in my movements and it was an intense 30 minutes.

I felt my body tense as we approached the Memorial and I was dropped off.  My eyes were darting to every side street and nearby store and my mind was wandering with what ifs..  What if my friend can’t park, what if I need help, what if I have to go to the bathroom before my friend returns.  But once I made it to the Memorial and touched the sides and heard the flowing water, all of my worries about my vulnerabilities switched to the people who lost their life that day.

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I wasn’t able to share the experience with my friend, as a parking spot was not easy to come by.  So I waited on the nearby benches to be picked up and sat with my memories and my thoughts.  I was disoriented and couldn’t figure out how the original WTC was where I was sitting.   Back in 1986, I worked in the WTC for a year and up until the week before the attack I passed through the concourse several times a week.  Just as many other people who worked downtown Manhattan did:  whether it was for shopping or banking or eating or just passing through.

Life as I knew it changed slightly that morning, as I didn’t lose a loved one.  I was left with a deep sorrow and definitely some emotional scars, but  After about 6 months or so, my life pretty much returned to normal.  My world ended in 2009.

We all have our life altering moments, some are widely publicized for the world to see and others are more personal. A terrorist didn’t take my life, but an illness did.  An illness that leaves millions of people suffering every day.