Yesterday was the twelfth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001. Whether you think it was an inside job or not, it was a pretty intense experience, to say the least. It was intense for me, and I was living in the mountains just north of Asheville, NC with no direct personal connections to NYC. I had just moved from Washington, DC weeks before, so I was naturally checking on my friends there. I was supposed to drive back up for a music gig about a month later, in fact, and I had to make the decision that I wasn’t going to go. And my bandmates understood that. The rules had changed.
So I had a client yesterday who was living in New York City at the time and working just a block away from the World Trade Center towers. We naturally reflected on his experience, and it was pretty cool. Why was it cool? Because he has healed! He’s very open to therapy and the potential benefits, so he actively engaged in his own health by seeking help after that. At this point, it’s a memory that’s been fully processed. And what does “fully processed” mean? Basically, it means that there’s no more emotional charge. It has all been felt, so it’s no longer being carried in his body 24/7. There might be a little left, but it’s not even close to enough to disrupt his life or to cause him much pain. For a long time after 9/11, though, this wasn’t the case. He couldn’t go near ground zero, for instance. He’d even avoid it by getting off the subway a stop or two out of his way and walking. He’d leave early to do this.
The other component of “fully processed,” of course, involves our thoughts and beliefs. I assume he had worked this out in therapy as well. He probably worked on the belief, “I am not safe right now,” for instance. He feels perfectly safe right now. That probably wasn’t the case for a period of time after 9/11, though, maybe even a year or more.
This year, he really didn’t make any big deal out of it. His partner was consumed with it, though, watching lots of TV specials and worrying about him. He was fine, though, totally fine. Here’s the test. At some point yesterday morning, his mind starting to relive the events of that day twelve years ago. He was amazed at the detail and said, “It was like it just happened yesterday.” The only difference, though, and it makes all the difference, is that there was only a tinge of feeling. Only a tinge; that’s what we want. He noticed this and was just as amazed. So he told his mind something like, “If you want to go there and show me these vivid images, that’s fine, but it’s not taking me down anymore. It no longer has that power.” And he let his mind run its course without any resistance or problem at all. Man, this stuff is so cool… It really is science. Science of feelings.
He did most of his therapeutic work in the first few years after 9/11. By the time he started to see me, over a decade had passed. It was just over a year ago, and our third session occurred right around this time last year. I didn’t realize this until I checked my notes just now. He had started reading The Sedona Method by the time 9/11 had rolled around again last year. In it is the story of a NYC resident who was at a retreat in Sedona just days after the towers had fallen, and he talks about busting himself about feeling special since he had been there. And of course Hale Dwoskin directed him to release this, and the man felt much better afterward, more free and at peace. When my client came in for that third session, he had just read that passage. He identified with the man in the story, and reading it helped him to release the little bit of feeling that had remained. So it was nice to hear him talk yesterday, another year later, and a year that included our total rewiring of his thinking and his learning to release feelings directly. So powerful.
At this point, my question for him was, how have you changed since then? Are you pleased with where you’ve gone in the last twelve years? He knew that I meant internally, not externally. He replied that he was a totally different person now. All he wants now his inner peace. Back then, he was drinking, doing drugs, and just trying to cram in as many wild and crazy experiences as he could into his life (it sounds like he was pretty good at it, too). Now he only wanted peace, real peace, no matter what form it takes. Excellent! So I guess we could say a whole lot has changed.
As I started writing this post, it took some twists and turns and grew into two posts. Part two will talk about something that happened with him at work just in the past week or two that really shows his growth. I didn’t make this connection until a few hours after our session, as I was leaving work, and I was quite floored. It made me realize once again what a privilege it is to be able to work with people in this deep, transformational way. So stay tuned for part two.
By the way, he brought in some of his pictures from 9/11. It was extra cool because I’d forgotten that physical pictures still existed. I used my phone to take pics of four of them and have posted them on the Facebook page for A Clean Mind. It was a rush job, so please don’t judge. I ain’t no Ansel Adams anyway… Oh – as soon as the first tower collapsed, and he was working just a couple blocks away from that one, he went into the nearest store and bought a disposable camera. And he started clicking away. That’s where these pics come from. Then when the second tower came down, it was only a block away. He was so close that he ended up in a cloud of smoke and dust and ash, and he couldn’t even see and could barely breathe. He said that “paper was flying everywhere, some on fire and some ash. It was just crazy.” He could hear a “loud crackling sound very vividly,” and he heard people screaming in the other direction that sounded closer. He followed the sounds of the screams, and it was the right choice. The crackling sound was in the direction of the towers and the screaming people were in the other direction. The pics show some of this, and I’m sure you’ve seen plenty anyway. You can imagine that therapy was very important in releasing all of the fear, anger, stress, etc. that would naturally accompany a scenario like this.