I was in 9th grade the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I never understood why I was so effected by it, so traumatized. I don’t live in NYC, or D.C. and I didn’t know anyone on flight 93. I know everyone in America, in the world, was changed but I didn’t see anyone around me in my circle of friends as freaked out as I was. Until I started therapy in March of this year I always felt SO weak and undeserving that I would feel so much pain over it. I thought it wasn’t my pain to feel, it belonged to those who lost loved ones, I wasn’t allowed to feel that because it was theirs and they deserved the comfort not me. I know this doesn’t make sense, but I need to write. I know now that trauma comes in many different forms, and I feel how I feel. Some people are extra sensitive to things like that. I’m one of them. I recognize now that I am allowed to feel that, that what I feel about 9/11 is ok, it doesn’t matter WHY.
I was in my second class of the day that morning when an announcment came over the intercom that the world trade center’s had been hit by two seperate airplanes. I had NO idea what this meant. I didn’t know the significance but I could feel the energy in the room change and I had a terrible gut feeling. About 10 minutes later kids started getting picked up from school. I heard a bunch of people talking about what this meant and I started to panic. I’ve always been pretty paranoid, always fearful, full of anxiety, as long as I can remember. I walked in to my next class, english honors, and the tv was on to a news station. We all just watched, I started to understand more. I saw people jumping from the buildings and it hit something in me that to this day has not decreased in intensity. I was sitting there watching the tv live and the first tower collapsed. Then the second. I was shaking with fear. The rest of the day went like that, class to class, watching tv quietly, teachers telling us this was a day we’d never forget. I think what was awakened in me that day was the knowledge that an evil existed. I didn’t know evil like that existed, pain like that, terror. My parents were supposed to fly home that day from Atlanta, they called to let us know they were ok but couldn’t fly home because of the grounding of all planes. They ended up renting a car and getting home a couple days later. I was glued to the tv, sucked in by the media coverage, I became obsessed, it wasn’t an interested kind of obsession, it was like I was paralyzed by my fear and I just couldn’t move, I couldn’t think of anything else. This began my first major depression. I stopped talking, I didn’t care, I just walked around in fear. Shortly after, the fear in me became too much for my 14 year old self to handle. I didn’t know what to do with it, how to get rid of it, I couldn’t even put a specific name to it but I knew something had to give. I hurt myself intentionally the first time that day. Every 9/11 since 2001 I think about this. My therapist asked that I stay at the treatment center today because she knows how triggering 9/11 is to me. She also asked that I not turn on the tv, the radio, or look at anything on the internet. She didn’t need to tell me that, I know that. I have to say though, before she asked me not to, and even though I already knew I shouldn’t be doing it- I clicked on a link on a news page and I figured if there were any graphic photos there would be a viewer discretion warning. NO- I accidently came across the image that shocked me so much 10 years ago in my english class watching it all live. The choice those people had to make, the terror, it hurts me in the same places inside of me, with the same intensity, with the same raw fear as it did back then. This time, unlike the last 10 years, I used the coping skills I’ve been taught this year and I didn’t use substances or self injury to numb that fear. It’s a foreign feeling to me, and I’ve only felt it a few times, but I’m proud of myself. I have 39 days sober, and 38 days self-injury free- I can’t promise I wont be back at zero tomorrow but I am definitely giving it all I’ve got this time. My thoughts are with all who lost something that day, someone, some part of themselves, innocence, sanity, serenity, peace, kindness. I wish healing for everyone.