The Aftermath

Wherever you were on that horrible day of September 11, 2001, you were affected by the terrorist attack on New York City and Washington, D.C. The initial impact as I watched it unfold on television was one of denial and shock. For most of us, Americans and others around the world, we were in total disbelief that this was actually happening. Carol Weathers called me immediately to report that she had made contact with all of our East Coast Couples to make sure that everyone in our “community” at Building Families was safe. Indeed, we were all blessed that all our Couples and Surrogate Moms were safe, home and abroad.

That is an interesting term today; “safe”. You may not feel safe as of right now. I believe this is a normal reaction to this most unusual trauma. While we stand united against terrorism, as a nation and with our allies worldwide, we continue to learn more about people that “hate” our way of life. We are suffering from aftermath of witnessing four of our planes, filled with our loved ones, get hijacked and crash into civilian buildings and the Pentagon. I suspect that this will be a lengthy process of psychological recovery that could take years. The levels of trauma are beyond the usual and expected stress of life. Many, if not all, of us around the world are and will experience some form of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder consists of difficulties in sleeping, waking up early, fear of planes beyond the fear of flying, fatigue, feelings of depression and recurring thoughts of the trauma we experienced. I wanted you to know that these symptoms are expected and I encourage you to talk about it. The importance of having a sense of control and ability to share your feelings is embraced by all of us at Building Families in our everyday life and is especially important now.

As a psychologist who promotes well-being and resolution of conflict, I find myself at odds with rampant thoughts of getting back at those who performed this horrific act. Yet, when you have been victimized and terrorized, it is normal to go through a mourning process that also includes feelings of anger. This mourning process may include waves of denial, anger, bargaining with God (e.g. “I’ll change if you make this go away, God”), depression and finally acceptance. I have yet to figure out what “acceptance” actually translates to in this situation. Perhaps acceptance is getting back to being productive and living our lives.

So if you find yourself acting angry, frustrated or scared; be patient with yourself. Allow us or someone close to you to help you through this healing process…talking can be curative. Remember that our children have to live their lives too, even when their mothers and fathers are scared. I’ve allowed my 18-year old to stay in San Francisco as she embarks on her college career, when I truly wanted her to come home so I can be assured that no one will hurt the baby I’ve been raising for 18 years in freedom to become independent, “SECURE” and a contributing citizen.

We all have to overcome our deepest fears now. Remember that we are all safer today in this country than we were several weeks ago. We have more information, we have more safe guards…IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS. Some strategies to assist you in coping with this trauma are:

  • Don’t isolate yourself. Learn to relate to others.
  • Don’t become addicted to the television news channels. It can become immobilizing.
  • Continue with any plans you had prior to September 11, 2001.
  • Resolve to live our life as planned.
  • Listen to and enjoy your favorite music.

May God bless all of you and your families and God Bless America.

Until we meet again.

Dr. Rad.

Vesna Radojevic, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who directs the psychology component of Building Families, Inc.
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