May peace and grace be with all those who died, those who were injured and those still suffering in any way from the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
I’m writing this in the waning hours of Sept. 11, 2012, and today I, as I’m sure millions of others did, remembered that day 11 years ago with sadness.
I remembered where I was on that day, as I’m sure many of you did.
And I thought of the world after 9/11 and how it’s changed.
On that day 11 years ago, I was at work at the health department and watched the Twin Towers fall on television. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had to hear the late anchor Peter Jennings say it before I knew that what my eyes saw was really happening.
In the days that followed, and the months, too, I stayed glued to the news, on the radio, TV and online.
I knew that the world and the way I thought about it would never be the same.
My anxieties and my fears are so small when compared to the anxieties and fears of people around the world. I live in comfort and safety compared to many in the world.
But this is a blog about obsessive-compulsive disorder and the accompanying depression and anxiety. How do I, with these mental disorders, make sense of a world where things like what happened on 9/11 can happen?
The short answer to that is, I don’t make sense of it. I will never make sense of what happened on 9/11, of other terrorist activities, of violence and hate. I will never make sense of any of that.
But there are some things I can make sense of.
The stories of family members having their last conversations on cell phones with chaos in the background. The stories of men and women who stepped into the chaos to help save others. The people who still work to make sure we don’t forget. The people who work to help prevent other attacks, other violence.
And I make sense on a personal level of how I can navigate in the world of 9/11.
In the months immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, my anxiety was sky high. I worried about things I’d never worried about. I was scared for the safety of my loved ones. I didn’t know what might happen next.
I dreamed about a well-known American man, well respected, nonpolitical, a good person. I dreamed that he committed an awful act of violence.
I asked a friend, how could I dream something like that? It’s evidence that things are not like they used to be, she said. Things that you used to believe in aren’t there any more, she said.
I agreed with her then, and I still agree with her. I was reacting to a changing reality, even a changing personal reality.
Gradually, my global anxiety subsided as I grew used to the way things were. I had learned anew of the many things I couldn’t control. I had learned for good that time is precious and our loved ones even more precious.
Now my anxiety tends towards the personal again, what I’m doing or not doing, what others around me are doing or aren’t doing.
But I will never forget what happened on that day 11 years ago. And it is especially on days like today that I remember the lessons: time is precious and our loved ones even more so.