I think it’s only fitting that I take a few minutes today to retell a story that gets me ostracized by nine out of ten groups that I make the mistake of recounting it to. Well, nine out of ten in the upper midwest; maybe only four out of five when I’m on the coasts.
Yesterday: EMDR Therapy
So yesterday, I was at my second EMDR therapy appointment. I had originally been told that we would be going over incidents regarding situations of impending or immediate homelessness that impacted me traumatically. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to break down any of those memories and start putting them more into a logical category, instead of the PTSD-triggering, emotional response linked, ‘issues‘ category that has caused me so much trouble, with all of its content.
After we covered the homelessness, and some of my bogus relationship history, we somehow stumbled onto the topic of suspicion and paranoia; specifically, the onset of my largest multiplier for that factor, which was my experience at MiSU while dating the [separated] wife of an airman from the Minot AFB. I’m not sure if it still is, but on this fateful day in our past (9/11/01), it was the NORAD command and control center, handling all of our air defense capability.
Go figure, it wasn’t long after, though she disclaimed with the assertion that she ‘had no reason to disbelieve anything that I claimed’, that she started mentioning that she thought I needed to be on antipsychotics, and started delving into whether or not my personality had always included certain aspects of paranoia…
Seventeen Years Prior: Shit Hits the Fan
Though the events earlier in the day are somewhat amusing to recount, with the previous night’s massive college binge drinking setting the scene for interesting humiliation and depravity, this anecdote really starts at the point where I finally drug my shaky, hungover corpse out of the dorm room to trudge down to the student union for a meal.
Something wasn’t right, while I was on the way there. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but then again I was busy trying to shove back the massive alcohol withdrawal anxiety to a secluded corner of my mind, where every set of eyes that came near me wouldn’t send me hiding under the nearest rock. The physical discomfort didn’t help much, either.
When I finally got to the student union, on my trusty mountain bike, I noticed a distinct lack of people in the halls, for that time of day. That changed when I passed the game room, though, where the big screen television was kept. The place was utterly packed, with everybody gawking at the tube. I went in to see what all of the fuss was about, and was treated to my first view of the first plane impacting the WTC. It didn’t take long for the current situation to become apparent, with the constant recapping on CNN. Clearly we had suffered a violent catastrophe of some sort. As the situation evolved, with the second plane hitting the other tower, it became apparent that it was a deliberate attack (if there had been any doubt).
I hurried back out of the student union, to my bike, in order to get back to my dorm room to give my roommate the information as to what was going on. All thoughts of breakfast/lunch, and going to class, had been dropped on the game room floor at the student union. I actually was in such a frantic dash to get back to the dorm room that I ended up totally forgetting about the speed bumps throughout the parking lot; I was just passing a group of female students, when I hit the first one at a fast clip, utterly unprepared. I flew over the handlebars. It was somewhat humiliating, but the events of that day had an impact that overshadowed that pretty quickly. I guess it just goes to show how very significantly this event affected everyone that was aware at those times.
My roommate and I shared our shock & disbelief of what was going on with each other, and ended up discussing the matter with some people around the dorm. That took a few hours. After awhile, my girlfriend at the time, Ambra, ended up coming over from the Job Corps facility there to hang out and discuss the day’s craziness with us, as well. My roommate was very good friends with her, so it was a tight crowd. The conversation went much as it does in these massively significant incidents where you don’t have any control over what’s going on. We talked about all of the facts that’d been rehashed in every way possible, already, yet another time. After awhile, my roommate had left, and Ambra and I were laying on the bed together, just enjoying each others’ company.
Eventually, her cell rang, and she answered it, though it was a number she didn’t recognize. It turned out to be her husband, who was on break from his post at one of the radar stations at the NORAD control center. She was laying right next to me, and we were intertwined, so she was taking this call with the phone literally right next to my ear. The first words out of his mouth were “Now do you see why I haven’t been able to get back to you about that stuff you need from the house?”
Instantly, the world folded out into a new, more complex and sinister configuration, and changed forever for me. “No advance warning,” had been the words out of Dubya’s mouth. Over, and over, again. She had the same realization immediately, and sat up straight to take the call. He proceeded to explain that they had been on communications lockdown for several days, and that nobody had known what was going on, just that there was some type of threat. Eventually, after being incommunicado from friends & family for so long, one of the airmen (being in a more plush, and less secure environment than I’d been in, in the Army) was able to sneak in a cell phone; he passed it around to the other radar operators in the control room, so that they could all let friends & family know that they were safe, and maybe give a little bit of a clue what was going on.
He told her that he had gotten her messages, and understood why she was pissed about not being able to pick up some more of her stuff from their house, but that he didn’t really have any choice due to being in the military when national security was involved. He said that they’d known about this threat for weeks (the world went sideways for me again a little bit more at this point), and that he didn’t know when they would be off of lockdown, but that he’d be in more contact as he was able, and that she wasn’t going to be able to get any stuff until then, and didn’t need to be blowing up his answering machine.
So yeah, that was my first big glimpse of the rabbit hole. I ended up diving in head first, when I realized that I needed structure to save my life, and had nothing to lose, and joined the Army, knowing what I did. I guess most people don’t really understand the logic that led me to that decision, at this point, but that’s a topic for another day. For now I’m just going to get this out. Hell, maybe I’ve already written about why I went into the Army, knowing what I already did; I certainly don’t have a full recollection of all of the posts that I’ve written, since I started this blog in Portland.
I think that’ll probably be next up on the list, if there isn’t already an essay filling that spot.