Returning Feelings

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July 18, 2014

There was a specific moment on the night of 9-11-01 when I became numb and unable to have normal, healthy feelings. It was during an emergency hotline phone call when the president of Fuji Bank called. In spite of my saying that all patients who came through from Ground Zero had checked out, he proceeded to list all 12 of his lost employees. My mind must have gone into shock. When the hotline phone rang afterward, I had a hard time picking up.

Now, more than 12 years later, when I remember being on the phone with him, I can’t stop tears from flowing. It’s as if the grief has taken one year per lost employee to manifest. I took on his sense of loss that day. Maybe now I am empathizing because the traumas were too intense back then. It has taken years to have any feelings about that phone call.

August 3

On the day those first two paragraphs were written, I relived that phone call from who I believe was Yoshiro Yamamoto. As reliving goes for a person with PTSD, it felt like it was happening again. I became dissociated from reality. My mind became foggy and disconnected. The following week at work, I had trouble concentrating and completing basic tasks.

Today, when I remember that phone call, it’s not as difficult. It’s more normal as a memory should be — an incident of the past remembered not with sharp images and strong feelings but with merely a recollection of a progression of events. I could not write down on July 18 what I felt when the hotline phone rang the remainder of the night. But I can now. Every time it rang, I had an uncomfortable sensation run from my skull down the back of my neck to my shoulders. I felt weak and without words. I felt helpless. The one who always had a way to help in an answer, a word of advice, or something encouraging to say all of the sudden had nothing to offer. In a moment, my world fell apart.

Today, I also have less difficulty answering the phone. Perhaps I’m in the home stretch of recovery.

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