Although I've already written about the mistakes we made after 9/11 and what we need to do differently in two previous posts,* with the added factor of current threats for this weekend, I want to help you help yourself and those you love ahead of time. This is a short post to begin the process, and you can also refer to the other posts to help you understand further and go deeper.
As we go into the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we are all having memories of that day and the shock, grief and terror we felt. But what most of us don't know is that we're also having memories of anything in our earlier lives, including and most especially in our childhoods, that caused us shock, grief and terror. It could have been a physical or even emotional attack by an abusive person. It could have been an accident of some kind that was shocking and frightening, like a car accident, a fire or a weather event like a tornado. There are many other possibilities that we might have experienced as children, causing us shock, grief and terror. And all those feelings -- deep, intense and raw -- were also part of what we felt and what came pouring forth into our experience on 9/11 and after.
And not knowing about the earlier feelings that were being evoked, most of us were not able on 9/11 to tell which fears we needed to act on and which ones we needed to just feel and follow for healing. Think of all the things we did individually and as a country that we thought we were using to defend ourselves from danger in the future but were really attempts to defend ourselves against the memories of dangers in the past and from the feelings related to those memories, buried deep in our unconscious selves without our realizing it. Our unconscious defense against the past memories and feelings kept us from being able to discern what we needed to truly protect ourselves from and how in 2001 and after that.
Today, as we go into this weekend, especially with the terror alerts added to the anniversary itself, we can be proactive. We can feel the fear that is touched and stirred in us by the terror alerts and threats. And we can wonder what it might be triggering, each of us, from our own childhood. We can explore and find, the best we can on our own,** the events from long ago -- the real threats to our safety that we actually experienced as children -- and begin to tease them apart from today's in our minds and hearts.
There will, of course, be more to do with the memories. And we will need to go back to the young feelings and feel them so we can also tease them apart from today's feelings. Doing so will help us so our fear from long ago cannot be taken advantage of or misused today or in the future. And doing so will help us so we do not have to keep using our precious energy trying to defend against the ancient feelings. We can utilize our energy for more constructive and creative endeavors so needed in our lives, our country and our world today.
For today, beginning to wonder if the fear of the threat alerts is, in part, fear from our past, beginning to explore where in our past did we experience great fear and un-safety and beginning to know that we need to tease the fear-from-long-ago away from the fear-of-today-and-tomorrow -- these are starting steps that can help us enter the anniversary weekend of 9/11 alerts and all (and any other frightening event) with more awareness, more groundedness and greater ability to make solid decisions and choices and to take steps to more truly prepare safe passage in the present day.
© Judith Barr, 2011
*To learn more you can read my two related posts:
An Open Letter to Norway . . . Don't Make the Mistake We Made and The Media Has an Opportunity to Help This September 11 - But Will They?
**If you need help in the exploration, find a therapist with integrity who does the deep work of exploration and is not afraid of your or his/her own feelings.