Dr. Suzanne B. Phillips

Licensed Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Diplomate in Group Psychology, Certified Group Therapist, Author, Radio Host and Media Consultant Covering a Wide Range of Psychological Topics

Post: Why Am I Anxious About the 10th Anniversary? Some Reasons

world trade center towersIf you are feeling anxious about the upcoming 10th Anniversary of 9/11 — you are not alone. Nationally and internationally the world is focusing on commemorating a day of unthinkable destruction of lives and life as we have known it.  As such, the event has private and public significance that evokes a broad range of reactions, body memories and feelings.

Trauma theorists tell us that we heal in community, that we heal by bearing witness to atrocity, the we need to remember and mourn and that we must give voice to what has happened to inform  future generations.

Trauma theorists tell us that with anniversary events comes the opportunity to do this as well as the emotional déjà vu – the anniversary reactions.

  • Anniversary Reactions may include feelings of fear, anger, guilt, grief and sadness.
  • The anniversary event often ushers in bodily symptoms including sleep problems, fatigue, concentration and heightened startle response.
  • Memories which were registered that day in a state of heightened arousal may be triggered by sights, smells, sounds, taste, weather, seasons, time or place.
  • It is almost as if our body and mind can feel thrown back to 9/11 for the day or even the weeks preceding or after the anniversary event.

Being human most of us are made anxious by the anticipation of how we will manage the reactions, feelings and memories stirred in us. 

Such anticipatory anxiety is understandable — it fits.

 If it can be accepted —  it will not prevent us from what we need to do or choose to do on that day.

Some wait for the anniversary event as a time to let walls down – to suspend the forward focus on life, to dare to feel the pain and loss of the past.

Some want a chance to cry, some fear they can’t.

Some steel themselves for the tempest that blasts through each year and then go on raising children or living without their partners.

Some are the children who come to understand loss and pride differently each year.

Some are the children now old enough to want to read a parent’s name.

Many are the military and families of military who have proudly served and suffered.

Some are those who carry a private loss on 9/11 that echoes an earlier trauma – they grieve for both.

Some fear pity but find on that day that the tears of strangers reflect empathy and respect.

Some see the anniversary as only one day of many days in ten years that they have lived up close to the memory and the pain. They wonder if others understand.

Many are worried about the words to say – they find it’s not the words.

Many are stirred by the support of so many who have shared a similar emotional wound.

Privately, publically many draw upon their spirituality to get through.

Many understand that even as they have suffered, they have gone on – at times with anxiety, at times with tears but also with hope.

Photo by Rafael Amado Deras, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.