It is the morning of September 11th. Since 2001 this day has felt somber and important to me. I remember the fear and confusion I felt that day in 2001. I remember where I was when I heard that something was wrong and where I was when the first tower fell. I contemplate how life has changed in 12 years.
Depending on your age, you may have a few of these days that you remember with shocking clarity: where you were when JFK was shot, when the the Challenger exploded, when the twin towers fell. Sometimes these events just become markers of time for us and sometimes they are more important – sometimes they really affect us. Sometimes they even come to affect us more after the fact than they did when they occurred (I later moved to New York City and worked in the emergency response community with individuals who had been part of the September 11th response). Regardless, today is a day that, for me personally, it is important to stop and remember.
In stopping to write this, I wanted to think about anniversaries and what they mean. For me, and for many Americans who observed from afar, September 11th automatically brings memories of the attack on the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon, as well as the crash in Pennsylvania of United flight 93. For those who were more directly impacted, I can only imagine this day brings even more thoughts and feelings – perhaps painful, perhaps fatiguing, perhaps (in a way) opportunities for growth. Thinking about anniversaries also made me think about how very many things happen on any given day: just looking at the Wikipedia article for September 11th, I see that it is the birthday of both Bashar al-Assad (current president of Syria) and D. H. Lawrence (noted author), it is one year since the beginning of riots that killed 4 Americans working in the embassy in Bengazhi and 26 years since NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor reached Mars. Both positive and negative things happen every single day.
September 11th is also, inevitably, an important day for many of us for many other reasons: a birth, a death, a wedding, an anniversary of a personal event. In fact, every day of the year is important to someone. I suspect you have a short list of days – positive or negative – that you remember with shocking clarity. What are your important days? What do you do to remember them? Do you forget they’re even coming up but then find yourself oddly emotional or touchy? (I have – that’s the Anniversary Effect!) It is worth stopping to ask yourself if how you’re remembering is how you want to remember. Sometimes creating a ritual can help.
That said, sometimes it is not helpful or healthy to remember. I appreciated this Psychology Today article for reminding me of that. It feels helpful for me to remember on this day, but for some it may be too much. We don’t have to put pressure on ourselves to remember or not to remember, or to do our remembrance in any particular way. This is about what feels right to us. Just keep in mind, though, that there’s a difference between remembering and retraumatizing ourselves. There’s no question that watching and rewatching news coverage of traumatic events can harm us. Instead, I’d like to suggest reflection and thinking about the meaning of an event in your life. Given the passage of time, what does this event mean for you now?
On this September 11th, please remember that memorializing your important days, whatever and whenever they may be, is important and ok. It is also ok if memorializing your important days is something you don’t want to do right now – something that brings too much pain or something you feel you’re just not interested in. That said, if there’s something you need to talk about or process related to your important days, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378. If you’ve experienced a recent trauma, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) or hypnotherapy with Risa Bos can help prevent PTSD. If you’re dealing with a past trauma, EMDR and hypnosis with Risa can also help. Or if you just need a partner to help you remember, all of our counselors have the skills, training, and passion to join you in individual counseling.
In remembrance of our important days ~Krista Bringley