When time stands still: 15th anniversary of 9/11 (*with 9/12/2016 update)

On September 10, 2001, the night before 9-11, I had discovered that my boyfriend was cheating on me. I was shattered. I felt so alone. All the hateful things that my abusive mother had ever said about me being unlovable and bringing out the worst in people seemed true.

I got very little sleep that night. Awake before sunrise, I decided to go to an early morning AA meeting at a nearby sobriety club. I hadn’t had an alcoholic drink in over eleven years at that point. But since my marriage had ended almost a year and a half before, I had been going to a lot of meetings to ensure that I didn’t start drinking again. My mistake, though, was dating someone I had met in AA. BIG mistake.

As I sat through the sunrise meeting, I was in so much emotional pain that I felt like I might be having a heart attack. I had heard of people dying from a broken heart, and I thought that was about to happen to me. I briefly considered going to the emergency room, but decided not to bother. I was too depressed to care.

When the meeting ended, one of my friends came over and asked if I was ok. I started crying and told him about my cheating boyfriend. My friend was empathetic. He told me he was going to have breakfast at the truck stop before going to work, and he asked me to join him.

I followed him in my car to the diner, where I sniffled and cried through a meal of scrambled eggs and French toast. At the end of the meal I went to the restroom. I still felt like I was about to have a heart attack, even more so after eating. I looked in the mirror, at how ugly my face looks when I cry. I felt like such a loser. I was in my late forties and I believed that no one had ever really loved me. (Today, I know that I was always loved by God. His love is more than enough for me! And today I have a wonderful husband, and a few precious loved ones, who also love me.)

I came out of the restroom and my friend told me that an airplane had just flown into the World Trade Center tower. There was a TV in the truck stop, over the cashier station. He had seen it on a news bulletin as he was paying the bill.

I followed him to the television and watched in horror as a jet flew into the tower. It had to be a terrible accident, I thought. It looked unreal, like something in a movie.

I said goodbye to my friend, then went out to my car and turned the key in the ignition. The radio came on and I heard a reporter say that a second jet airplane had flown into a second tower.

That’s when I knew it wasn’t an accident. Our country was under attack.

Suddenly, my boyfriend problems did not matter any more. The pain in my chest was instantly gone. My thoughts flew to my children and grandchildren. What was going to happen to them? Would my twenty-year-old son follow in his dad’s footsteps now, and join the military? If our country went to war, would my son be drafted?

Instead of driving to my lonely apartment, I drove to my son’s workplace. On the way there, I heard the report of a jet airplane hitting the Pentagon. My family and I were living in southeastern Pennsylvania at the time. New York City was a few hours to our north. Washington DC was about eighty miles to our south.

As I pulled into the parking lot of the TJ Maxx store where my son worked, I heard the news bulletin about a fourth jet crashing in western Pennsylvania.

Our country was under attack, and we were surrounded!

*UPDATE added 9/12/2016: For some reason, right after I wrote this 9-11 post last night, my daughter in Washington sent me a text asking me to send her the pictures I took of the supercell we had here in June 2012, a storm that produced softball-sized hail and destroyed all of the roofs in our town. I sent her those, and also sent a picture I took of a mesocyclone we had here in May of last year. Finally, I sent my daughter the link to a YouTube video, done by professional storm chaser Reed Timmer, of our 2012 supercell. I sent a message with the video, explaining that three of the big grain silos you can see in the video, located just 1/4 mile from our house, blew down two days after Christmas last year, during the Goliath blizzard.

By the time I had gone through all those disaster pictures, all of which were taken here in eastern New Mexico, where my husband and I live… I went to bed expecting to be blown up or blown away at any second!!!

But… whether I live or die, my trust today is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our May 2015 mesocyclone. I took this picture right before a wall of dirt and debris began swirling all around us.

(Comments here are closed, please visit the original blog that inspired this post above. Thanks for stopping by and God bless.)

Lucky Otters Haven

394261 14: A fiery blasts rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) 394261 14: A fiery blasts rocks the World Trade Center after being hit by two planes September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Not too long ago, one of my regular readers spoke of seeing a bunch of military tanks practicing for a martial law takeover. In America, I am hearing of an increasing number of incidents like this. I try to avoid the news, but there’s an increasing and unavoidable sense of panic that our nation may be on the brink of a removal of all our freedoms as martial law becomes the norm rather than the exception. It’s very frightening.

But what I really want to talk about is the feeling of unreality and dissociation that accompanies seeing something like what my reader did.  She said when she saw the tanks, she felt as if she was dreaming. It didn’t seem real…

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Trauma Triggers: The Ultimate Gaslight (*UPDATE: Two Hours After Posting This, I Feel Much Better!)

pilot-light-2I WAS HAVING THE BEST YEAR EVER. Feeling calm, peaceful — without psychotropic medications! —  and very grateful for all the blessings in my life.

Grateful for my best-friend-husband, whose cardiologist says his heart has healed to the point that his test results look like he never had a single heart attack, let alone two. Grateful for my stepdaughter, who has been living in the trailer in our back yard since July of last year and has become a true daughter to me. Grateful for my natural-born children, all grown up and living far away with busy lives, but still keeping in touch nearly every day by text. Grateful for my grandchildren, most of whom are also grown, one a young mom working her way through nursing school, and another attending Harvard University. Grateful for our small church family. Grateful for our few good friends. Grateful for our two adorable rescue dogs, one a small poodle, the other a big terrier mix, both of whom we found abandoned on the streets within the past couple of years.

I’m also very grateful for our small, solidly built 1930s Craftsman style house on the western edge of the great high plains. Our little house is snug and safe now, with a new metal roof that our pastor, a carpenter by trade, helped put on after two big hail storms and a Goliath blizzard destroyed the shingled roof. He refused to take any money for the work he did on those blistering hot 100+ degree days, so we put some extra in the offering box. 😀

I have found that gratitude makes all the difference in my overall health and mental attitude. Gratitude and praise has made me strong enough to get a lot of writing done on my memoir during the past several months. Truly, 2016 has been a terrific year for me.

That is, it was a terrific year until several days ago, maybe a couple of weeks ago — I’ve lost track of exactly how much time has passed — when I walked into the kitchen and smelled gas. As it turned out, it wasn’t a simple matter of a pilot light that needed to be lit. Something was wrong with the stove, and it was leaking deadly gas fumes into the air we breathe.

I’m very grateful that I discovered the gas leak before something tragic happened. And I’m grateful my husband knew how to turn off the gas and disconnect the stove. I am thankful, too, that he agreed to dismantle the stove and sell it for scrap metal, and replace it with a new electric range.

He agreed reluctantly, because installing an electric stove means the electric company must add more power to our house, and the kitchen will have to be rewired. All of which costs money we don’t have, so we will probably have to take out a loan, on top of buying the new stove on credit. My husband, who does most of the cooking because he enjoys it and he is very good at it, prefers to cook on a gas stove. So this is a sacrifice for him on several levels. But he loves me and he understand. For his love and understanding, I am especially grateful.

My husband understands my trauma triggers, even when I don’t fully understand them myself. He also has PTSD, from combat in Vietnam. So he knows from personal experience how trauma triggers work.

After years of therapy, plus the benefit of an in-house stay at a Veterans hospital in 2005 for an intensive trauma treatment program, my husband knows that you can’t just think away a deep trauma wound. Although my husband and I have come a long ways on our respective healing journeys, some trauma events leave indelible scars on your soul. This has been proven by modern brain imaging technologies. As imaging scans have shown, both the structure and function of the brain, in humans and in animals, can be altered by overwhelming trauma.

Brain imaging technologies have also found that the injured brain can heal. It’s called neuroplasticity. However, the healing process is typically very slow. It can take years of living in a safe, healthy, affirming, and loving environment for the severely traumatized brain to heal.

When something triggers an old trauma wound, you feel like the trauma is happening all over again. To the injured part of your brain, the trauma is not in the past, it is RIGHT NOW. Even though, as in my case, the trauma happened more than fifty years ago.

The gas stove goes bad. Gas fumes fill the air. Suddenly I am pulled back in time to the winter of 1965-1966. The ultimate gaslight… my ultimate trauma.

I am twelve years old. My mother is trying to gas us all to death.

But it's just a house, right....?

Comments are closed while I work on my memoir. Thanks for stopping by, and God Bless.

*Update: Two hours after posting this, I feel so much better! Maybe writing and sharing this was therapeutic enough to get me out of the anxiety and depression I have been battling since the stove went bad, or maybe someone read this and prayed for me, or maybe both things happened. For whatever reason, I feel like myself again. Maybe now I can finish my memoir. Thank you, Father God, and thank you, sweet WordPress people. YAY!!