Healing From 9/11

healing from 9/11
Photo I took on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

In the weeks and months and years (!) that followed 9/11, I found myself with some anxiety that I never had had before.  I feared death.  I feared losing my first husband.  I feared dying too young and missing out on this great life.  And mostly, I feared getting blown up by a suicide bomber on my way to work.  As authorities announced the “red alerts” on the news & reported on specific chatter from terrorists regarding another possible attack on New York, I became increasingly full of more anxiety.  It was just more apparent than ever that life was precious – that life could end at any time.  This carried over to my experiences while flying & driving.  Flying became crippling to me.  Tears, shaking, sweaty palms, terror at every sound and bump.  The entire flight I would be thinking…What was that?  Is something is wrong?  Why hasn’t the pilot announced that all is well?  That guy has been in the bathroom WAY too long!  It was terrifying & excruciating to get through flights.  One day I had to fly to Rome out of JFK, with my boss  – – and it happened to be the day after a liquid bomb was found on that Heathrow flight.  This was day 1 of no liquids allowed on planes.  Can you imagine?  I really thought I was going to die.

Clearly, this was all before I figured out what life was all about.  This was before I embraced every-dang- inch-of-life…the good and the bad.  This was before I learned how to truly live with real peace and real happiness – – – the kind of happiness that is not dependent on circumstances. 

Once I began to realize that trials in life are FOR OUR GOOD and that I could quite deliberately embrace them instead of fearing them….. ALL OF MY FEARS MELTED AWAY.  I am telling you, they literally evaporated.   All of them.  It was remarkable.  And nearly immediate.  This is when I started to truly realize the POWER that I had within me.  I finally embraced this kick butt thing that I never really thought about much before called the Plan of Happiness

[which states that trials are a part of this life so that we can have opportunities to learn and grow and to become at one with God and his ways.]  Guys, in case you think this is crazy, religious or not, just give this concept a try cause it works for anyone.  Or find your own source of strength and power.  I am telling you, it will change your life.  Since that day that I finally decided to just try it, I have been a changed woman.  I have not had anxiety about dying – – not even once!   I no longer have ANY anxiety or fear while flying.  I don’t fear cancer.  I don’t fear my husband dying.  I don’t even fear giving birth to an unhealthy baby or to no baby at all.  Cause I now know that I can face anything that comes my way.  I am telling you that the peace is so all encompassing and so complete.  It affects me every single moment, every day……………..I couldn’t be more grateful.  And I just have to tell every single one of you, that you are capable of this, too.

Love to all,


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  1. )en September 30, 2011 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    Oh man, so crazy! Thanks for sharing this, and great blog! I can feel the love. 🙂

  2. mara2 October 2, 2011 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Ah, thanks, Jen.

  3. Susann Wagner October 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    You have put this in such beautiful succinct words. Thank you for sharing your incredible outlook on life.

  4. Anonymous October 10, 2011 at 4:33 am - Reply

    How do you do that? How do you embrace your fears instead of suffer through them? How? I don't think I get that yet… I would love to though!

  5. danny October 10, 2011 at 5:43 am - Reply

    Anonymous – Great question, hopefully I can elaborate a little – though to do so fully might take a whole separate post – but it would be worth it.

    First – notice it isn't the fear that you embrace, it's the trial. Fear and doubt are the things you cast aside, as completely as you are able (it's a learned skill that you get better at with time). The saying "There is nothing to fear but fear itself" is very appropriate.

    The easiest way for me to describe the process of embracing a trial is first to recognize this truth: you may not always be able to choose what circumstances you will face in life, but you can ALWAYS choose how you react to them. Agency, or the power to choose your reaction, is quite honestly one of the greatest gifts we have in this life. We MUST learn to deliberately choose reactions that are based in positive emotions and thoughts (faith, hope, love), and dismiss any emotion or thought based in negativity (fear, doubt, anger).

    Here's an example: one trial of the moment for me and Mara is infertility. We don't necessarily get to choose whether or not Mara will have a successful pregnancy, but we do get to choose how we respond to it. We can worry, fret, and have anxiety over every doctor's appointment and pregnancy test. And when it comes back negative for the umpteenth time we can be angry at how unfair it is that we cannot conceive. But honestly…what good does that do? Do we gain anything? Anything at all??? I'd say the only thing we gain if we CHOOSE those reactions is a negative state of being that will breed more fear, doubt, and anger…YUCK!

    So how do we respond? First, we realize there are two ways for us to be truly blessed and relieved in this trial. The first would be to actually conceive, and the second would be to be at peace and still have joy and a meaningful life even if we don't conceive. Yet again, since we can't choose for ourselves the first option (conceiving), then we actively CHOOSE the second (feeling peace and joy right now, even without the child). And it is a choice we make every single day. We choose patience with the process, we choose hope that it will some day happen and that we will find doctors that can help us, and we express confidence that if for some reason it never does, then our family will be just as complete through adoption as it ever would be through natural childbirth. We choose not to be short with each other or be an additional source of negative energy, and we both help the other recognize when fear, doubt, or anger of any sort might be creeping in so that we can stop it quickly. By embracing only positive reactions and emotions…we've found that option number two (peace in the moment even though childless) comes to us naturally. Our constant state of being is a natural result of the choices we made.

    So whereas choosing fear and anger only breeds more of the same ugliness…choosing faith, hope, love, patience and joy breeds a state of being that is happy right now, and free from all that negativity. And honestly…that joy comes from God.

    Not to get too religious on you, but Jesus once said to his apostles the night before he was taken "Peace I leave with you, *My Peace* I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." He offers His Peace (which is independent of circumstance) instead of the world's peace (which is dependent on circumstance – health, wealth, employment, family, etc).

    Mara and I have found that promise to be 100% true, we've experienced it countless times, and found it to be the essence of deep, abiding faith.

    Let me know if that helps. If you still have questions, please say so and I will try again 🙂

  6. JanMama October 11, 2011 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Danny –

    Beautiful. I needed this today.

  7. Anonymous October 12, 2011 at 5:54 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this! I really appreciate you going into detail on this for me. I've come to realize that I have not been dealing with my trials in a healthy way and it's starting to really take a toll on me and my marriage. Thank you for explaining this out. I realize that it's not going to change overnight and it's going to take "practice" but I know that what you guys are taking about is right and it's true.

    I had a really rough week last week, and Friday I prayed that I would be able to figure out how to get rid of so much of the anger and anxiety that I have and figure out how to be happy again. And then I found this blog that night. I really feel like it was an answer to my prayers. Though our trials are different, the peace we can get from turning our hearts to our Savior is the same…

    I just want to say thank you to both of you, Danny and Mara, for being willing to talk about such things on a blog. I've been pondering over the things you guys share on here for the last few days and I'm really starting to feel peace creep into my heart again.

    Thanks again! Sorry to be anonymous (I just don't want people to be able to come back to my blog from my comments).

    – Meg

  8. mara2 October 20, 2011 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Anon (Meg) – SO happy to hear that you will be practicing some changes….little by litte, things really, really can & will get better if you stick with it. And try to ENJOY the process & find empowerment in it! It feels really awesome when you start to overcome things that previously you never did. I wish I could tell you guys MORE of my stories, but since they involve my ex-husband, I cannot. But let me just say that you can apply these principles and get amazing results, even in really, really challenging moments. Remember this – when you are feeling anger & all those negative emotions, it is actually taking you away from being at one with God. Think of that in those moments….try to breathe, find forgiveness, have compassion & pity for those that are trying to provoke you to be angry. Of course, be smart about your decisions…don't mistake what i am saying for acting weak or putting yourself in harm's way, etc… that's different. What I am talking about is YOU taking on the power of yourself and your emotions. YOU are in charge of how you feel, not your circumstances. It's really awesome cause sometimes in these awful situations we feel powerless. But when we go through the steps to retain our wholeness and not base our emotions on our circumstances, WE TAKE BACK THE POWER in all those tricky moments. So happy you are doing this. You have very, very good experiences ahead…

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