Each year, for ten years now, we’re forced to remember our nation’s biggest single tragedy in an event that also affected the whole world.
The long roster of victims.
The harrowing piles of rubble.
The families bereft of loved ones.
Now, at the 10-year mark, we’re invited to feel horrified and helpless all over again.
There is no American alive today who is unaware of what happened on September 11, 2001. We don’t need reminders of the images; watching them, commercial-free, serves only to return us to helplessness and rage.
It’s ghoulish It’s fixating. The story of helplessness and anger reminds me of trauma in my own life; not least are the continuing attacks of multiple sclerosis. I’m not attempting to reduce the reach of the events of 9/11 just as I’m not trying to elevate the importance to the world of my having multiple sclerosis.
What I’m suggesting is that macrocosm mimics microcosm in its relative importance.
For just as lives all over the world were forever changed that Indian-summer morning, each of us who are disabled can pinpoint those beginning moments of chronicity as a truth that’s changed life forever. Retraumatizing is unhealthy; it doesn’t allow for healing or for forward motion. Keeping us thrall to commercial-free re-viewing is being at the end of a long rubber band that inevitably draws us backward while giving the illusion of growth and distance.
This is the way to perpetual sorrow; perpetual anger; perpetual victimhood.
I understand the power and purpose of a “Remembrance Event”; especially one that honors and reinforces the meaning of a national tragedy. Just as important, I think, is to recast an Event like 9/11, making a shift from impotence to reframe — from digging through rubble to planting and growing trees.
Retraumatizing — reliving — can be therapeutic when it repositions trauma in our minds in order to lessen its effect on life functioning. But retraumatizing has to have a beginning and ending point in order to be healthy. It is the order of things to move toward balance. Most 9/11 wives continued to raise their children, went back to jobs; some even began new intimate relationships. Just as many of us who are disabled have.
Let’s move away from the images of human beings jumping from eighty stories up and from the stories of cadaver dogs nosing through rubble.
Being alive doesn’t dishonor the dead. Moving disturbing memories to the backs of our minds doesn’t mean forgetting.
Because nobody will ever forget what happened on 9/11/2001.
Is it inappropriate to liken the trauma of fixating on 9/11 with fixating on disability?