I ran across this brief essay that I had written at the time of the 9-11-2001 tragedy. This came at a time when I was heavy into psychotherapy for childhood sexual abuse. Reliving my experiences caused me to make a comparison between the misery of 9-11-2001 and childhood sexual abuse. I’m sorry if I offended anyone involved in the New York City tragedy, but if I’m afraid to write something that is uncomfortable, I shouldn’t write at all.
So metronomic, like the orderly flow of a Mozart symphony. A masterpiece of design; an act of evil. At 8:48 a.m., on september 11, 2001, the opening movement: a Boeing 767 fully loaded with fuel, crashed into the north face of I World Trade Center. An explosion, clouds of smoke, and flames blew upward as tremors rattled the structure. Fifteen minutes later, the second movement: a Boeing 757 was eaten by II World Trade Center in one giant bite, only to be regurgited through a projectile vomit of flames and debris. Civilians ran for cover and rescue workers ran inside and people jumped from the 80th floor. They fell like apples. The south tower suffered a breakdown and dropped to the ground.
At 9:40 a.m., the third movement: a Boeing 757 struck the western part of the Pentagon. And finally, the fourth: a Boeing 757 that through the heroic efforts of a group of passengers, averted its target and was forced to crash in an unpopulated field outside Pittsburgh.
People in agony: their faces in contorted expressions never experienced before. Some estimates show hundreds dead and 6,000 missing or presumed dead. Every image, every sound, was seen from New York to the Philippines to Kuwait. No one could deny the magnitude of misery that sprung from nowhere and pulled a hunk from our side. We were injured. Over the next few weeks, the major news outlets deluged us with stories about victims, survivors, heroes, and men sitting at Elmer’s coffee shop in midwestern-Illinois discussing how this will effect the price of beans.
Now we have the threat of Anthrax and worry how our bodies may be eaten alive, leaving only a remnant of rubble, a pile of powder, or a slab of slime. A fog of depression covers the horizon and lingers as America struggles for ways to live with a new epidemic called misery.
CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, and the Fox news service explore each threat, some imaginary, some not. How do we protect ourselves? Will we live? Will we die? And if we die, will it hurt? Our politicians are scared. I read the other day that the governor of New York said he wasn’t going to be tested for Anthrax but he and his staff were taking Cipro. Now that’s kind of like receiving rape counseling before you’r been raped.
As America struggles with this new phenomena called misery, me and my fellow abuse victims meet in coffee shops and whisper our concerns, “I don’t want to sound cold,” I whispered, “but why are people so vocal about what’s been going on?”
“I don’t know,” my friend replied. “It’s like they’ve never experienced misery before. Maybe they don’t know how to deal with it.”
“We can’t say anything,” I said. “People will think that we’re sick, bitter, or just don’t care And that’ not the case. I do care. Still, I’m bitter. But, mainly, I just don’t understand.”
Why would Americans be more upset about our recent misery than other atrocities that have and continue to occur? That seems to the question. Lets take a look at the numbers. According to the findings of the Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-3), 1,553,800 children in the United States were abused or neglected under the Harm Standard in 1993. The Harm Standard is relatively stringent in that it requires that an act or omission result in demonstrable harm in order to classified as abuse or neglect. Broken down, the figures for 1993 include 217,700 sexually abused children, 338,900 physically neglected children, 212,800 emotionally neglected children and 381,700 physically abused children.
It all seemed real, as most dreams do. I was playing second violin and sitting in the back row just in front of the timpani. It was an evening concert; penguin-like men, and women draped in black filled the stage. I felt the tightness of an undersized collar and the warmth of spots that beamed brightness from ceiling heights. The first oboe sound an A. Each musician entered the fray, searching for the matching pitch, playing an occasional scale, arpeggio or other pleasing note.
A tapping sound, then silence. From the wings, the conductor and guest violinist walked across the stage and took their positions. A downbeat, and we were into the allegro movement. The soloist was on tonight. Each phrase was clean and powerful and enhanced by the near perfect acoustics of the hall.
I moved my bow in long slow strokes, taking advantage of the brisk tempo. I watched the audience from the corner of my eye. Each face told it all. The passion;l the attentiveness; the tears; it was all there. I couldn’t help but wonder how it would fee to be heard by so many. Oh how I’ve yearned for such a moment. And then, as if directed by God, the soloist turned and looked m;y way. It’s you turn, he seemed to say.
I sprung to my feet and pulled the bow across the strings while the fingers of my left hand pushed firmly against the board. This was my chance. But the strings stood still. My eyes looked downward across the bridge and watched the bow hair brush past each string. My right hand gripped hard and pushed the bow hair downward, harder and harder. Still, no sound. Just silence, followed by tears. I want to be heard. Oh God, I thought, there’s no rosin on my bow.