Eight Years Later, It’s Still Easier to Distract Myself

Eight years ago, my husband was in Manhattan on business and I was home with a three year old and 6 month old.  The shock of what happened was such that I didn’t even think about my husband being in the area until my neighbor asked if he was traveling.  Then I was freaking out.  Thankfully, I knew that he wasn’t quite in the same area as the twin towers, but didn’t know how close he was.  After calling his office and getting transferred to the New York office, I was relieved when they even picked up.  I asked the receptionist how far away they were from what was going on, and my heart started beating again when she said “far enough”.  Turns out “far enough” was not as far as I thought, but I’m glad that I had that ignorance then.  It took 6 hours before my husband could reach me, and 4 more days before he managed to get home.  For quite some time afterward, I suffered from increased nightmares and general anxiety (which was a problem even before 9/11).

We have a friend in the naval reserves.  He would constantly send me emails with “Never forget” and pictures of the flaming towers.  I finally had to tell him to stop, and trust me, I would never be able to forget.  I still hate (HATE) seeing pictures of the towers.  When the towers fell, I knew, and said to my neighbor at that time, that we were watching people die.  To me, posting pictures of the burning towers is like posting pictures of a gruesome car wreck that a family died in on the anniversary of their death.  Why would I want to keep ripping a scab off of something that I had to work hard to blunt the edges of?

Last month, I was in Manhattan with my family for a weekend.  We stopped in a church (the name escapes me) that had become a museum, a shrine of sorts to 9/11.  There were photos of loved ones that were lost that day, there were letters and gifts from school children around the world.  I was in there for maybe 5 minutes when I came across some paper origami cranes that were just a sampling of the 10,000 cranes that schoolchildren in Japan made and sent to New York.  The crane is a symbol of peace, and my mind was just blown that so many were made and sent.  My daughter (I don’t even remember which one, at this point I could barely breathe), was asking me about it, and every time I tried to open my mouth, I couldn’t get the words out.  I quickly walked her over to her father and rushed out of there.  I felt foolish, but I hadn’t realized how much I’ve suppressed emotions from that time.  It’s still easier to do.  Thankfully my husband understood.  Even eight years later, it was too soon for me to be so immersed in remembrance.

So forgive me if I don’t immerse myself in 9/11 memorials, TV specials, etc.  It’s not that I want to forget, it’s that I remember it all too clearly.

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3 Comments

  1. I can’t identify with the way you feel because I had nobody close to me have a close call in 9/11. But to be honest, I had never thought of it from someone’s perspective who did. I have always been of the mindset you mentioned – Keep it fresh in our minds so we don’t get complacent as a nation. No tolerance for terrorism. But I do have a fresh perspective on it now and have empathy. I’m very happy it all turned out well for your family though.

    • I have a hard time with it. I tend to invalidate my feelings because I didn’t lose anybody, but oh that fear! I remember when his co-worker called (the only person who had service since most of the antennas had been on top of the towers), I thanked him and promptly burst into tears. Apparently, everyone was aware that family back home in the rest of the country would be flipping out until they heard from their loved ones.

      Now granted, I can come off a total unfeeling bitch in real life, but there’s something about it that hits me so hard and so deeply that it scares the crap out of me. And what’s worse is I can’t seem to control it. It’s either all or nothing.

      I suspect it will still be quite a few years before I can even watch the footage or any TV specials about it without mentally getting transported back to the raw fear of that day.

  2. I am a softie at heart, but I always tell my husband that my theme songs in life are “I Can’t Drive 55” (Sammy of course) and “Cold Hard Bitch”. LOL I can give a look to kill but if I see something having to do with 9/11, I get all choked up. Again, glad your family was all spared.


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