Storm Cloud Divulged

I’m having a rock star kind of day. I woke up on time, went for a brisk walk, decided I looked skinny this morning, wrote three blog posts, and finished all the tasks on my to-do list. If ever there were a worthy recipient of the mythical gold star, it’s this chicky right here.

Things almost came to a screeching halt this morning, though, when I turned on the radio. A local radio station was replaying their show from 9/11/2001 and it really upset me. Not in a sentimental way, in an angry way.

I was surprised by how angry I was (if I were in a Charles Schultz cartoon, I would’ve had a little storm cloud over my head) and tried to figure out why.

Why would I ever want to experience those emotions again? I think it’s one thing to remember something, even if remembering it hurts, and quite another thing to keep dragging yourself through the experience. It’s emotional masochism and I want no part in that.

I suppose some people will take umbrage with this, thinking me selfish or egocentric. I am (isn’t that in the nature of a 20-something blogger?) but I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem is in dealing with emotions.

As an increasingly sensitive and empathetic person, I absorb the emotions of the people around me. If you’re sad, I’m sad, so to speak. This is great in some ways, but it’s also a pit filled with punji sticks in others. I’m too easily mired in my own emotions and it can take me a good long while to dig myself out.

This goes a long way toward explaining why I wrote so much poetry in high school and struggled so violently with depression.

After many many many therapy sessions, I’ve learned that the best way for me to deal with emotions is to identify them, feel them, contextualize them, and put them away. This way, I’m not stuffing them but I’m not wallowing in them either. This method appeals to not only my inherently organized nature but also my fond desire of being in control.

Back to the point of the post. Maybe the radio show producers figured this would be the best way to get people to remember that terrible day. Maybe they were lazy. Maybe this is how they deal with their emotions, by flogging themselves with the same painful sensations until they can no longer feel them.

I have to believe that it’s possible to remember without forcing yourself to emote the whole situation again. Even from my safe armchair in a Washington state high school, watching the towers smoking and collapsing, it was a terrifically painful experience. It was terrifying, eye-opening, and tragic. Is it necessary to feel that again and again for the rest of my life in order to really remember or is there a healthier, yet still appropriate way?

I don’t want to be calloused, but I also don’t want to be a masochist or martyr either.

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