Sunday, September 10, 2006

Anniversary mania

As September has crept upon us, my mind has been on a different anniversary from the one which haunts the rest of the world. I have been keenly aware that it was this month last year when I first broke down after the bombings in July. For me this was the beginning of a journey which is yet to be concluded.

As the balmy summer days wrapped themselves up I thought about marking that day with a post on my blog. I knew it was a milestone to remember and recollecting it in words seemed the only way to honour it.

I wanted to remind myself how far I had come, that my shrink had been right when he told me it would be ‘at least a year’ until I felt like my old self. I didn’t believe him at the time, it seemed incomprehensible that it should take so long. I am still not there, but I have travelled the rocky road and, as someone told me the other day, I have begun to find the joy in life again.

I wanted to recall the night it all began. The night my brain was finally unable to contain the fear. The night I was no longer able to protect my consciousness from the horrors hidden deep inside my head. The night I fell into a fitful sleep and shrank into my mattress as a black cloud of faceless evil surrounded my flat and crept in beneath the ill fitting front door. As it slid towards my sleeping form I recoiled in terror unable to escape its growing mass. There was no escape from this engulfing cloud. As I prepared myself for its final onslaught something came from deep within, there was a way, a chance of survival. The darkening cloud was all too real, but something inside my unconscious head reminded me that I was, in fact, asleep. ‘Wake up’ it told me ‘you have to wake up’, that is the only chance you have. I gathered all the strength I could find and put every last effort into beating this force. I sat bolt upright, my eyes still closed, and hollered with all my might. My eyes shot open as I heard the sound, what was this curdling cry? It was seconds before I realised it was coming from my throat, that I was the one screaming into the night. Where was the evil? Had I killed it with my shout? My whole body was consumed by a shuddering fit and I fought to inhale the surrounding air into my tightening chest. I dragged off the covers and staggered across the room, I had to kill the darkness with light. I found the switch and shakily pushed it in, there was a crack and a flash and the system was blown. For a moment I wondered if it had really been a dream. Darkness had invaded my home and now the fuse was blown. I felt my way along the wall until I came across the ladder. I hauled it across the hall and, shakily, climbed it until my fingers rested on the fuse box. I found the big red switch and as I pushed it down I was enveloped with a warm blanket of light. It was over, I was safe.

Little did I know as I fixed the fuse, that this was just the beginning. The beginning of a voyage where I was to discover the weakness of the human soul and my inability to put mind over matter and beat this bloody thing.

As I pondered that day and mentally prepared this post, I realised I had better find out the date. Last week, as I sat in front my desk, I leafed through my diary of the year that has passed. I counted backwards until I found that day, the date was September 11.

I shook as my eyes fell upon those numbers. How could it be that I had never known? It was natural that the anniversary of 9/11 should have been the trigger to awaken my terror, but not if I hadn’t been aware. I have no recollection at all of the significance of that Sunday. I had friends for lunch which occupied my whole day. Perhaps I had heard a snippet on the radio or caught a headline in the paper. You would have thought that over the next few days the penny would have dropped when I asked myself why. ‘Why has this happened and why now? Oh it’s September 11, of course.’ Perhaps I was too mentally broken to know or care, or perhaps I really didn’t know. Either way tomorrow is going to be tough. The 5 year hype is upon us and as I turn off my lights tomorrow night I will be praying that the darkness doesn’t return.