The One Day That Changed Everything
Through Darkness Comes Light, Through Fear Comes Love, and Through Pain Comes Triumph ~ Mary Paleologos
Today we are remembering September 11th.
Today, we remember the countless lives that were lost in this tragic event, and the power and courage of all the people willing to risk their own lives to save others! We remember all the firefighters and EMTs and first responders, the orphaned children and the widows, the mothers that lost their children and the nation that in so many ways will never be the same.
For me, the day was personally difficult on a very different level.
I recall it clearly. It was about 8:45 am when I got home from my boyfriend’s house that morning. I opened a bottle of wine, turned on the TV and went to the bathroom to take a shower. When I came out of the shower, the picture on the TV was of some horrific disaster. I picked up the remote to change the channel, but to my great surprise, every station had the same images as the broadcaster repeated, “A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center tower in New York City.” I just stood there in disbelief. I could feel an indescribable fear filling my heart as I watched the news broadcast. There were people frantically trying to save themselves by jumping out of the tower windows. There were people running through the streets covered in the ash. Then the second plane hit. OMG. It was like something out of a horror movie, it made no sense, it was numbing, and it was terrifying. It just did not seem real.
About 9:30 am I called my dad to see if our family in New York City was OK. As I said hello, he burst into tears, OMG, I thought. Then he said that mom (my step-mom and only mom) had breast cancer. He said she was in the hospital after the biopsy came back positive for an aggressive stage 4 cancer, and she was now being prepared for a surgery to remove the two large tumors. The prognosis was not good.
And just like that, the horrific events that I have just witnessed, became a nonentity as everything all of the sudden had a completely new meaning – my mom had cancer!
I think I drank an entire bottle of wine during that 30-minute conversion with my dad. Then I drank more as I continue to watch the news, as the events of the attacks were unfolding. But I wasn’t really listening; I was in the midst of my addiction. I did not have a job so I had nowhere to be. I sat on the couch, wallowed, and got drunk, thinking what the hell has just happened to my world – my mom was dying and nothing mattered.
My dad called that night and said that the surgery took six hours and mom made it through ok, but she is not out of the woods by any means.
I never went to see her at the hospital that day; I just had no idea that I should. In fact, it was not until she was back at home a few weeks later that I finally went to see her. I didn’t realize how selfish and unconsidered that was, until I got sober.
Active addiction is such a crazy place to be in. It is all consuming and blinding. I did not have any ability to deal with anything. All I knew at that point was to drink to make everything just go away! I was so emotionally unavailable, and incapable of doing anything but numbing myself. I was stuck in my own little world, which was a very dark and lonely place.
I often think of that day and the fact that I did not go to see my mom, and I feel that same shame and guilt all over again. I cannot explain to anyone why I did not go, I do not even think I know why I did not go. Instead, I used her surgery and cancer diagnosis as an excuse to drink more. No one questioned my behavior at that time, and my sad story about my mom dying even got me free drinks – those were not my proudest times for sure.
Today, I keep working on destroying the shame and guilt that I still carry. I have to remember that I was sick and my behavior was that of a sick person. I also have to remember how far I have come since that day! How different my life is now in sobriety. How I was able to finally get sober, and be sober when my mom was at the end of her journey, and I was able to spend some very special time with her. I was also able to give the support that she and my family needed.
Because we do rebuild, and we do recover.
And we cannot forget the miracles that come out of this dreadful day, the human strength and perseverance, the kindness of strangers, the comradely of all, the amazing spirit that came through in the days and weeks after this event!
Through darkness comes light…
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