Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten years on...

I'm sure I am just one of a zillion bloggers who is writing about 9/11 this weekend.  I thought about this as a reason not to write my own thoughts on the topic, but then I said "screw that".  I think everyone who felt personally affected by 9/11/01 should take some time to talk or write or draw -- whatever means of expression or reflection works best for you. For me personally, writing can often be part of the healing process.

It's hard to put into words just how much life changed after 9/11.  In some respects I believe the changes started with the 2000 election.  Had Al Gore taken office instead of GW Bush, the last ten years would have looked very different.  Instead we had an administration that used post-9/11 fear and outright lies on the American people to coax us into an illegal war on Iraq. Meanwhile, Muslim Americans became enemies in their own country, while religious "christian" extremists gained more power and influence.

For me personally, 9/11 triggered what became a troubling condition called Nightmare Disorder. It didn't happen immediately, but eventually I was dealing with truly terrifying dreams every night, waking in a pool of sweat with my heart racing, feeling as if I was literally fighting for my life. When I finally felt broken enough I sought therapy; I thought some form of PTSD must be the root of my nightmares.

Therapy turned out to be a tremendous triumph, as I was able to finally forgive bullies from my pre-teen years all the way to more recent workplace bullies I knew as an adult.  It was an amazing feeling to realize I no longer harbored hatred and resentment I had been carrying around for decades.  In some cases I even felt compassion. By forgiving and letting go I also took back the power that these bullies stole from me: The power to love and accept myself as a beautiful and worthy human being in the eyes of God. The power to not go through life in fear.  The power to live my fucking life. I'm still being treated for my Nightmare Disorder as well as anxiety, but things are continuing to improve.

For me, 9/11 sparked the beginning of a profound life transition. My post-9/11 fear soon turned to anger, which I was able (with the help of others) to channel in some positive ways. Much of who I am now is the result of changes that I made, or initiated, in order to survive my anxiety and fear. I didn't want to live the rest of my life with feelings of powerlessness, or playing the role of victim.  While I consider myself a "work in progress",  I am proud of who I am today, and 9/11 served as the impetus for at least some of that.

I want to finish by thanking my husband. That's right - not my "partner", not my "lover", not my "special friend" - my HUSBAND. Leo and I may not see eye to eye on everything (most of the time we do), but his input and perspective are thoughtful and always taken to heart. Leo has a great capacity for compassion, and his actions tend to remind me that we could use more kindness in this world. So thank you, Leo. I love you.

Thanks also to my Higher Power (Jesus, Krishna, Allah, God), and to all of my friends, supporters, and those of you who frequent my blog.  We are a community, and as such we have the great fortune to lean on each other once in a while. Fuck the haters - we can choose to love instead.

Peace 2 U.

Jeff
9/10/2011

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