This is a guest blog from Drew M. and you can find his work on his blog http://www.drewmwriter.wordpress.com
Healing Old Wounds In Due Time
There are times in life where we don’t learn about things that affect us each and every day until we are faced with that issue specifically, or some variation of it. I recently was in an office building in Lower Manhattan and the lights started to blink. Then the lights shut off and powered back on. This happened several more times until the lights remained off for a brief period of time, but they eventually powered back on fully. No one else in the room seemed to be too concerned so I told myself to stay calm, which I did.
A few moments later an announcement came over the loudspeaker. It was the fire safety director. He informed all of the occupants of the building to evacuate immediately because there was smoke permeating from the floor beneath ours. Still, no big deal to me. I’ve been through a hundred fire drills and I understand that fires in office buildings are usually isolated and extinguished rather quickly. It wasn’t until I got to the stairwell when I started to feel nervous.
Nerves are okay. This was something else.
This was an out of the ordinary situation and there was danger. All of the other people on the floor were congregating in the floor-lobby as they started to make their way towards the stairwell. As we started to slowly inch closer towards the entrance of the stairwell I could feel my chest becoming tight. Not because I was afraid of the stairwell or the dark, but because by now, people were starting to get more panicky. People were shouting and appeared to have had little sense of the space between them and the person in front of them. The line was moving at a snail’s pace and I think this is why people were becoming fearful and agitated.
This is was what really got me nervous.
As we made our way into the stairwell, which was jam packed with people, a woman behind me started shouting. She told everyone to use the stairwell on the other side of the building because this one wasn’t moving at all. I remember she yelled “come on, everybody up, let’s go.” We started to make our way back up the few stairs we had gone down so that we could head to the south stairwell. That’s when my anxiety really hit the roof.
I think it is important to mention that the building I was in was located a stone’s throw away from the Freedom Tower, which was where the World Trade Center once stood. I was in high school during the September 11th attacks and I remember hearing terrible stories about the confusion going on in the building. During the evacuation of the Towers people were told to go up to the top of the Tower instead of down. These thoughts were swirling in my head as I made my way back up the stairs in the office building I was in. The situation I was in was nowhere near as atrocious and devastating as the attacks on the Twin Towers, but mentally, my imagination had taken on a life of it’s own.
After this terrifying experience, all of which took place in my head, I really started to think about how much that day still resonates with me, even two decades later. It made me think about other reactions I have to seemingly normal things from everyday life. I’ve noticed that when I see a plane disappear behind a tall building I always cringe and imagine the worst. After digesting my reaction to the evacuation that day I can now fully see and admit to myself just how deeply rooted that day is embedded inside of me.
Talking about my experience that day with my friend really helped me to realize that he shares similar triggers as I do. I think for whatever reason people are lead to believe that you are just supposed to get over things.
Someone you loves dies: “time heals all wounds.”
Your business failed: “next time you’ll come back even stronger and it’ll be like the failure never even happened.”
You’re heart was smashed into a million piece: “as soon as you find another person it’ll be like you never needed that person in your life at all.”
These are all just not true.
I was wrong in thinking that I could get over one of the most horrifying and memorable days of my life just because it happened a long time ago. I didn’t know how much it still affected me until I was in the evacuation the other day but, now I do.
I know that I need to work on these types of issues every day because they don’t just go away on their own. They become part of who you are, but they don’t have to define who you are as a person. I now know that it doesn’t make me weak or broken because I can choose to deal with these types of things even though they may take time to reveal themselves. Being honest with myself and open can certainly expedite the process, but unfortunately some of these things just take time. I will continue on down this path and take things as they come with a patient spirit and an open heart.