Like many people, I was to say the least unnerved on September 11th. It was 4 years before I set foot back in New York.
Becoming unnerved at the sound of an airplane can be a difficult think to overcome when you live not all that far from a major International Airport (In my case, Newark Liberty).
In a way it was quite odd. Those few days after September 11th, I remember how spooky it felt to not have the sounds of planes around. Nobody taking off, nobody landing. In the evening I can almost always see a tiny string of lights in the sky, the planes that are circling the area that lining up for their turn to land. But not on those days.
Then flights resumed, and I became consumed with anxiety. I nervously watched many planes taking off and landing. Watching for any sign that things were amiss. Is that plane flying too low? Too slow? Too Fast? Does it look like it is banking correctly? (As if I had any way of really knowing).
Not long after (and forgotten by most outside this area) was a second incident that occurred over Long Island. Immediately at the time of the accident, it was feared terrorism, but that was quickly deemed an accident, so most people just turned away and said, “Thank God it was an accident, and not terrorists.” Of course that fact didn’t make the people in the plane, or the people on the ground that the plane landed on (and their homes) any less dead or devestated from the events. After that, I never allowed LatteGirl far from me when I was home. Just in case something came raining down from the skys and we needed to evacuate the house. I often allowed her to fall asleep on the sofa in the living room, because I didn’t want her to be upstairs all alone at night while I was downstairs. Only when I was ready to go up for the evening would I put her to bed.
It got worse after the company I was working for closed up shop the following January. I had less to keep me distracted. Plus now I was home more, with those “flying gas cans” circling all day long. Topping that off were funerals, or more precisely memorial services for people I knew. People that had their services put off, with the hopes of finding a body, or even part of one to put in a box. But by this time, recovery efforts were for the most part over, and the greiving went on without them. I attended several. Several more than I wanted to, but less than I perhaps should have. I avoided some, because I just couldn’t handle attending them all. I made excuses, sent condolences, but had to just save some sanity.
Several years of anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medication got me through and somewhat back to normal. As normal, as normal can be for me anyway.
In 2005, I found myself back in New York City. I managed to keep my wits, but everyday I had to remind myself that those were events of the past, and that I needed to move on. Fortunately my anxiety never really got the best of me, and by the end I didn’t really realize how much that stress was actually still with me.
That is until I left there earlier this year. As much as I was disappointed at losing the position, I don’t think I was ever quite as relieved leaving a job, as I was when I finished packing up the last of my things, and left the 42nd floor that day.
Which of course brings us to yesterday’s events. No, it wasn’t a terrorist attack. By the time, I had gotten wind of the story, it had already been deemed an accident. But that uncomfortable feeling returned. And last night, as the rain fell, I caught myself straining to listen against the background noise of the drops hitting the house, listening for the sound of a plane, that wasn’t flying “quite right.”
I amazed myself, when I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep last night (without any outside assistance thank you very much). But I guess, if you live out your nightmares in your head during the day, there is not much left for your unconscience can do to you once you fall asleep.
The funny thing. I am not afraid to fly. We are planning on going to Disney World next spring, and the thought of getting on that plane doesn’t scare me in the least. I just don’t want to be under one of them.
(Why is this called “Picture Perfect Thursday”? Well you have to go visit Liz over at This Full House for more details. If you do join in, please let me know)