I was on the f*ckin elliptical yesterday morning. “My” machine is the one facing the TVs set to Bravo and USA. The daily routine consists of listening to Pandora and reading the closed captioning on the Real Housewives or NCIS while my mind thinks of nothing in particular. Yesterday was different. A commercial came on the Bravo TV for the “September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.” There were a pair of adorable, shiny faced kids visiting some sweet looking white-haired folks a nursing home. Everyone was happy with a glow from within that only giving of oneself to another can ignite. Under any other heading, seeing this humanity would have moved me to tears. Instead, it made me angry.
September 11th is not a day of service or remembrance. It is the day that savages perverted the name of God, used our freedoms as weapons against us in an effort to murder the highest number of our civilians at once, to destroy our way of life and create an aftershock of terror the world has never before seen. THAT is what we need to remember. An effort to soften those events is an insult to all those who lost — and are still losing — their lives. It is pollyannic. It is downright dangerous and will further the success of the demise of the United States of America. It is not only OK to be angry on this anniversary; it is our duty.
I was borne of severe dysfunction. Throughout my life, I dealt with it in a variety of ways. My first and most powerful defense mechanism that my unconscious mind devised was going on like it never happened. But it did. Like everything else, what’s done is done and can never be undone. I carried it inside my chest like a big, black rock. Inside it felt wrong, toxic, heavy…but I ignored it. How long can you walk around with a big, black tumor in your chest without showing symptoms? Can you really expect that it will not fester and grow, spreading its poison through your body while you ignore it? My teachers used to tell me that I always had a look of despair on my face. I said that’s just how my face is (off-shoot of today’s “resting bitchface”). I was drawn to self-medicate, made poor decisions and put myself in dangerous situations because something inside compelled me to do it. Thankfully, I got help and finally acknowledged the black rock in my chest.
Knowledge is power. I learned that the black rock could never be extracted. I wasn’t responsible for placing it there. Monsters did that. Alas, I have the burden of carrying it forever. And in a polar opposite experience, I unleashed the poison the black rock held within it. I let the rage flow through my veins. After being repressed for so long, I thought it only just to put it in charge of my decisions. At times my fervor would be uncontrollable. My face would twist until it became unrecognizable, more animal-like than human. I was a cantankerous, raging bitch. It was exhausting. I was killing myself with toxicity.
Today, balance is saving my life. My story is comprised of many harsh, defining moments. I know now that those defining moments will only define me if I allow myself to be controlled by them or if I choose to ignore them. I know now that it is not only OK to be angry about what happened to me but it would be weird and unhealthy if it didn’t make me angry. I am obliged in my quest for balance and overall health to Let. It. Out. Sometimes. Briefly. During those times, I’ll go to my town beach and scream. Or curl up and cry. Or bleed it out as words in my blog. And then the weight of the black rock in my chest feels more like a pebble than a boulder. I can carry on lighter and with more clarity.
September 11, 2001 was our collective defining moment as Americans. Each of us remembers exactly what we were doing that day. How we heard the news. That moment the world as we knew it was murdered. One of my most heart-wrenching memories happened on the next back-to-work day. Getting back to my routine, I arrived at the Bayside Y as soon as it opened to bring my baby girl to day care/Pre-K. When I arrived, it was as if the staff saw a ghost. On September 11th, all the main roads heading west — the LIE, NSP, Northern Boulevard, Hillside Avenue, EVERYTHING — were closed to civilian traffic so that emergency workers could have access to NYC and no other potential terrorist could get in. I had recently started a job in East Hills so getting home was challenging. My husband picked up that day. He NEVER picked up. The staff forgot that I no longer worked in Manhattan. When they saw my husband, they thought I might be one of those who never made it home that day. My daughter’s favorite caregiver said that she cried from the moment my husband left on through the night wondering how my baby girl would go on without me. We both cried as she told me. I continued to cry all the way to work thinking about all the children who actually had to figure out how to go on without Mommy or Daddy.
I feel anger and hatred for the people who abused me. I believe I always will. No matter how much time passes or how much progress I make in recovery, I do not foresee myself ever forgiving these people. And that’s more than OK. I carry the black rock they planted in my chest as a reminder of the evil we humans can and often do commit against eachother…and that I can choose to live a life of humanity. In some ways the black rock affords me a level of compassion that I don’t know I would have achieved otherwise.
I feel the same anger and hatred for the terrorists who murdered 2,974 innocent people on September 11th. I always will. No matter how much time passes, I will always shed tears for the children who were never picked up by their mommies again. My blood will always boil when I think about my friend’s husband who on September 11, 2001, could not join his fellow police officers at Ground Zero because instead he had to protect people who were celebrating the events of the day in the streets of Queens. I will always be enraged when I remember…and that will serve as a reminder of the evil humans commit against each other so that we may remain ever vigilant against present and future threats. And that’s more than OK. It would be stupid and irresponsible not to. Fuck them. Fuck those who support and facilitate them — overtly or passively. Fuck those who are trying to numb us into forgetting. Remember what they did. Get angry.
On September 11th the black rock I carry inside my chest will bleed red, white and blue, as it does every year since 2001…maybe a bit heavier on the blue this year due to the present state of affairs with law enforcement officers. On this day, I will allow the darkness, anger and profound sorrow to swell inside me and perhaps spill over a little as I remember what cruel savagery exists in the world. I’ll let the other 364 be days of service.