Friday, September 15, 2006

Quagmire

It's not quite coincidental that this comes shortly after the anniversary of the 9.11 terrorist attacks.

I have been on disability for a few months while I underwent a few surgeries. I have spent a lot of time just doing nothing during that time. I've watched probably every movie ever made, seen and hated nearly everything else that was on. In short, stir-crazy. I spent a lot of time alone, but I'm not sure that it was all bad, because I really learned something.

I learned that I am afraid. Not out-and-out frightened; no overt panic going on. But just afraid. I'm not in a unique situation, so there are things that tell me that I need to come to grips with what it is that is making me afraid.

I go to work in a major city every day. I travel with a lot of people. But every day, I enter the city, and I never quite get to forget 9.11 completely. It doesn't hang over my head; it isn't consuming me by any means. This fear for me kind of happened in reverse.

I realized, sitting here day after day, that aside from boredom, frustration, and the like, deep down there was a sense of security.

A little background here: I was at Broadway and Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan on 9.11, just yards east of the SouthTower of the World Trade Center. I was standing there with countless others, watching the horror unfold in the North Tower, when the 2nd plane flew overhead and hit the building. I ran. I was still in the vicinity, however, when the buildings collapsed. I ran again.

Anyway, I'd come to reason somewhat with myself. 99.9% of people would not derive any good from being disabled, even temporarily, and this was not good. But I was feeling pretty sure that, unless terrorists planned on taking out my apartment, I was pretty much safe.

See, as I said, this wasn't a consuming fear. I functioned pretty well. In fact, very well. I didn't have bad thoughts most of the time. Of course, I'm human, and guilty of a lot of things that we don't need to go into. I'd see a stranger among the familiar faces of my commuter group, and have those moments of suspicion and doubt. But nothing I'd act upon. Vigilance is good, granted, but stupid prejudice is just that: stupid.

What would go on in my mind were some very strange scenes. I think of those times in movies where they'd speed up the film to simulate "life flashing before your eyes" type of effects. I'd see myself trapped in a burning building, wondering what I'd actually do. I think of things like someone telling my kids that daddy was killed. I often wrestle with the thought that in the last split second I saw that plane, those people were alive, probably terrified beyond words, and then they simply weren't anymore. And of course, I see myself there, on that jet in those last moments.

I'm afraid sometimes. It's not cool to think that, but it's true. Not the thing you feel too great about sharing; a guaranteed dinner-conversation stopper.

The problem for me isn't that I was afraid, it was that I was really enjoying the break from it for so long. It's hard to get this concept in words.

I always chuckle when I hear that line, "you're not paranoid if they really are out to get you". I mean I work in a place that has been confirmed as a potential target and all, but these moments that I'm talking about come and go a lot more quickly than it takes to describe them.

As I said, I don't obsess, and it isn't consumptive. I function, do my job, tend to my kids. The fear is sort of like drive-by in nature.

But what was happening here to me was that I was beginning to really like the idea that I was out off the crosshairs, so to speak. Safe at home. And day by day, I've grown to be comfortable somewhat, despite being beat-up from surgery.

I know that the time will come. I'm doing so great physically that I surprise myself sometimes. I know I am going to be all healed up, and life will beckon. I have 3 kids to support, and work is just not an option. Life isn't an option, so to speak.

But i just think it's funny how you can come to one conclusion by drawing another.

5 comments:

  1. I could sit here and wax on about the probabilities and the stats...but that is the obvious which I know you are aware of AND ust proves, I wasnt there. You were.
    I understand the safety..the feeling secure, with what we know and is familiar.
    When you do return, that anxiety will well, yet Jimmy you have something above it: The knowledge of what IT is..
    Go from there...And talking about it to get it out is okay too.
    For the life of me, I just can not wrap myself in the whole thing, as I try nd try and then I do believe the brain does us favor and shuts it off at some point.

    Thoughts are with you.

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  2. You know, you have said it so well. I have the same problem with Grace. I know that she's probably not going to die. I know the odds of her dying from cancer are lower yet - but having lived through it once..... All we can do is press on

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  3. Hey Jimmy,
    I'm scared too, but not for the same reasons as you. I'm afraid that I will never find that special someone to spend the rest of my life with. I have visions of dying alone with no one here that gives a shit. I realized something last night. I really don't have any true friends here. My only friends are through journals. The one friend I have, and I use that term lightly finally called me after a week...and I've just lost my 7 yr relationship. That hurt.
    Oh well. Didn't mean to dump on you...I just wanted to let you know that I understand being scared and afraid.
    I love you my friend.
    Connie

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  4. Hi Jimmy

    You aren't alone my friend. I think most of us have a bit of fear we carry along with us everyday, and the situation with the world certainly does nothing to make us feel better. I was feeling anxiety with this anniversary of 9/11 like never before. Maybe it's a new kind of PSTD.

    I think one of the main reasons I blog is to have a connection to folks who feel like I do, even if I am simply sharing a photo or facetious thought. It's the human connection we seek. Anyway, just know you aren't alone, we, your friends, are right here with you. I hope that helps at least a little. :)

    Always, Carly

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  5. OK...this may be a little late, but it's probably still fits. Fear doesn't go away that quickly.

    Anyway, I completely and utterly understand...maybe because I live in NY...maybe because I'm human. It's not that simple to express all the complexities you tried to touch upon (prejudices, comfort with a new way of being disengaged from the usual world you know, etc). And for the record, I don't see being afraid as a conversation stopper, but more as a starter to a very long night.
    You know you're not alone, Jimmy. Just maybe alone in that you share more than most...as do I. Although, that's been changing too. Fear comes in many shades.

    Nancy

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