Adaptability / Adversity / Challenge / Faith / Moving On / Self-Help / Sorting it Out

9/11: Love and Hope on the Long, Hard Road to Healing

#Honor911 #NeverForget Why? Because not everyone who died from 9/11 died on that day.

I am a former New Yorker and as much as I try to escape it, I am part of the collateral damage of 9/11, as are many who lived in and around New York City at the time and thereafter. When 9/11 happened, fear enveloped the areas surrounding Manhattan, including Long Island where I lived. My husband was a first responder who arrived on scene to assist at the World Trade Center disaster site and remained there for several months, while I remained on pins and needles, awaiting his return.

Many don’t understand or even know of the dark cloud that remains over survivors of and responders to Ground Zero that to this day refuses to dissipate. The fact is everyone in New York has a story to tell about 9/11 and its affect on their lives.  And often it’s a story about how we attempt to overcome adversity.

For those intimately impacted by this event or anything equal to it–every day presents the challenge to be happy, to not think about where we’ve been, to not feel guilty for surviving when others haven’t or for moving on when others can’t. But every day also presents the opportunity to rise above adversity, to pick ourselves up and make the conscious choice to reclaim our lives.

Every year as September 11 rolls around, I am deeply affected by the surge of images on TV and on the internet, all triggers that tap into my mind and viscerally remind me how life changed so much after that day in 2001. Ever since, I have tried to use the day in a positive way, early in the day attending memorials, paying respects, allowing myself to let out the tears and feel the sting of the losses, and then the rest of the day doing anything I can to acknowledge the blessing of being alive.

Most years, I simply cried all day, purposely submerging myself in anything and everything related to the disaster. But after a time, I was successful in carving out precious hours in the latter part of the day where I redirected my attention to something positive–hopeful even. In recent years, I’ve gotten even better at it, requiring of myself a cut-off time for suffering.

This year will be different. My former-husband has passed on–at age 58, way too young to no longer be with us . . . he is the true collateral damage of 9/11. I don’t know what this year’s 9/11 anniversary will bring. I’m actually a bit afraid of it. Maybe this year will bring closure, because he’s no longer suffering, or maybe it will be worse than it ever has been.

The fact is that I, like so many others whose families were affected by that fateful day, have been trying to heal for a long time. I’ve been trying to make sure I honor the fallen and the still suffering by making every day meaningful–to do good, to be good, to be part of the positive energy in the universe and not part of its darkness. There’s a lot of pressure to get it right, but I think it’s important to try.

To all who continue to face the aftermath of 9/11, may the light of love and hope be ever within your reach. May you always know that you are not alone.

Love and Peace,

Sue J signature

Freedom Tower, NYC

Freedom Tower, NYC


Related Article:  9/11– For All That Ails Us, We Are Stronger Than We Know


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7 thoughts on “9/11: Love and Hope on the Long, Hard Road to Healing

  1. Pingback: Sept. 11, 2016: Honor, Not Disrespect, For the Disregarded; My One Good Deed | Swimming in the Mud

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  3. I love this post Sue. In one of his talks Bessel van der Kolk talks of how important it is in the aftermath of such events as 9/11 to not stay stuck in the pain. Its really good to express it and then move attention to something positive. It must have been such a huge event for everyone in New York and left such lingering affects.

    • I just watched his video this morning (The Body Keeps the Score) and found it really worth listening to. He did suggest PTSD is not relevant to 9/11, but I disagree on that point. His argument was that if there was no secrecy involved with 9/11, so there’s no chance for PTSD to emerge. That would be news to hundreds if not more who suffered with PTSD after 9/11. Secrecy comes in many forms and for my husband, it came in his attempts to keep silent about his own mental challenges after 9/11, as it might have caused him to lose his security clearance, his job, his entire identity as a patriot for the United States of America. I would imagine many hundreds of firemen, police officers, and other emergency workers suffered the same concerns when Ground Zero impacted them like the war zone it was. It’s the same thing soldiers deal with. But perhaps Bessel was simply referring to the people across the country who claim to have PTSD from simply watching the towers collapse on TV.

      • Yes, I think he wasn’t saying that 9/11 would not result in PTSD, just the remaining trapped in anger and pain may be damaging (at least from what I understood). In his book In An Unspoken Voice, Peter Levine includes a chapter on work he did with someone who was trapped in one of the towers and escaped, she most certainly had PTSD. But he helped her to release from trapped immobility responses that were counter productive for her. I think that is what BvdK is getting at.

      • Also I think what he was trying to express is that sometimes reliving the story over and over and over keeps people trapped in the trauma instead of moving onto something positive and joyful. That said if you lost someone that day you have lost them forever so that grief will always be there

  4. Pingback: Another 9/11/2001 Anniversary, Another Hurricane | Swimming in the Mud

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