Life changing experiences

Most of the media commemorations of the 9/11 attack on New York were written and published yesterday… ours memory is slightly different so waits until today to write.

It was seven years ago this morning that I switched on the television. The wife was on a business trip and I never sleep well when she’s away so was up early. The sight that greeted me was a plane flying directly into the second of the two towers. I stood there for an hour hardly moving as events unfolded and more news came in of places ‘disappearing’, and the White House being attacked. Then the towers collapsed and like everyone else I was totally lost for words or any way of expressing what I was feeling.

For me the issue was more personal that many watching the dram because the business trip the wife had taken was to New York for the first time and I had no idea where she was in the city… and had no phone number to try to contact her on.

Neither of us were unaware of terrorism of course. Having lived in London and having survived a few near misses from IRA bombs over the years, we weren’t totally naiive about the possibility of being killed… but this was different, maybe because we were so far apart.

For obvious reasons it took a long time for her to call and reassure me all was well and she was in fact a long way from the centre. Nevertheless it was enough for me that she *might* have been sightseeing and *might* have got caught up in it all. Besides, there was no way of us knowing that she wasn’t caught up in some all out attack on the USA!!

She tried to leave immediately but again, with all flights cancelled it wasn’t an easy process. Eventaully she got a flight thru Japan and got to Oz safe and sound.

Thing is, despite her being in no danger whatsoever, we were both very traumatised by it all. Her company (IBM) did absolutely nothing to help her get over it and we’ve just had to cope. However, even now, all these years later, is something to do with 9/11 comes on the TV…  she gets up and leaves the room.

Can’t say I blame her. When I look at footage of the buildings collapse or reports of new evidence and similr, *I* still get cold shivers up and down my spine thinking what could have been.

So this is my memory of 9/11 albeit a day after everyone elses.


4 thoughts on “Life changing experiences

  1. And bizarrely my trauma is compounded
    The night before “the” 9/11 though I struggled I could not get away from the one news story on American TV … a mother having drowned her four children in order of age, her 10 year old boy apparently having been chased around the house shouting “please don’t do this mummy” … in many ways that is more disturbing than the thousands pointlessly killed … and the picture of the airplane hitting the building brings them both home to me every time … I’m off now to another room!

  2. Hi there, I noticed your comment that your partner’s employer (IBM) did absolutely nothing to support her after 9/11.

    Just FYI – if your partner is empoyed by IBM Australia, she should have access to free counselling services, and I think those services would also be available to you. It’s called the employee assistance program, and it’s provided anonymously (that is, she wouldn’t have to talk to her manager or anyone in HR about it).

    Maybe it’s too late – but thought you should be aware of this.

    Here’s a link on the IBM intranet: http://w3-07.ibm.com/hr/ap/au/yourlife/en-us/esvc01-eape01.html

  3. Hi Caspian, thanks for the comment. The wife did in fact know ‘support’ existed the EAP existed, but to be honest, being told by your manager “Call the EAP” does not constitute ‘support’ in anyone’s book. Quite possibly management decided because she wasn’t directly involved in the disaster she couldn’t possibly be suffering any psychological damage. If true, this alone would demonstrate how out of touch with reality they were.

    She did in fact call the EAP and spent a couple of frustrating hours with someone totally out of their depth with PTSS who relied on asking the standard counsellor question “And how did you feel about that?”. Trauma counselling, it wasn’t.

    When the lack of support and after-effects began to affect her work, as it necessarily did, there was no understanding whatever and eventually she moved on, which effectively resolved the situation for her employers and absolved them of further need for ‘support’.

    Naturally she’s had to cope. Her career has developed… yet every September the eleventh, the ghosts come back. Every time the towers are shown on news stories… she leaves the room.

    C’est la vie.

    1. Thanks for your reply to my post.

      I’m sorry that none of what was offered helped…and that this terrible tragedy still haunts your wife today.

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