Have You Really Healed From September 11?

When I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, I was in the backseat of a car as it drove by Ground Zero – a place I have never visited, in spite of the fact that Iíve been to New York ten times in the past year. I didnít go there on purpose. It took me by surprise. With no warning, I burst into tears.

The ground was like a giant cavity, like a mouth with two big molars yanked out and bloody, red gums oozing underneath. I could smell the burning embers, taste the ash raining down on me, feel the terror.

Memories From Ten Years Ago

Ten years have past since I was driving in my surgical scrubs on Interstate 5 in San Diego on my way to the hospital to perform a vaginal hysterectomy. The DJ on the radio cried, ďThe second tower of the World Trade Center just went down,Ē and I almost hit the car in front of me. When I arrived in the doctorís lounge, CNN was front and center. Everyone was glued to the television. Footage of the towers falling played and replayed. The doctors all had tear-streaked faces and bloodshot eyes. The only sound in the usually noisy room was the muffled sound of sobs. Every person who walked in was seeing it for the first time, and whenever another doctor entered the room, we all looked up and watched the doctorís face. Every one of them cried when they saw it, even the crusty old men.

Newscasters were telling us to go home, to take our children out of schools, to find safety, wherever that might be. Planes were still in the air. We didnít know who might be next. I wanted to leave. I didnít want to operate. But it wasnít my surgery – I was there to assist my partner. I couldnít just disappear.

I Didn’t Want To Operate

I hoped my partner would cancel the surgery. I didnít want to have a retractor in my hand if it might be my last moment on earth. I wanted to be with my husband. I wanted to cry for the people who had died. I wanted to face my fear and pray. Like everyone else around the world, I had just witnessed a mass murder. I was traumatized.

And yet my partner wanted to operate. I begged her to cancel. She said no. So just like I did after my father died, just like I did when I had to leave my newborn, just like I did when my teacher told me to suck him good, suck him hard, I wiped my tears, swallowed hard, stuffed my emotions, and operated, like the good doctor I was trained to be.

Unleashing Tears

Not until a few days later, during A Tribute To Heroes televised concert, did I hear Bruce Springsteen sing My City Of Ruins and I started to unwind the feelings I had bottled up in that operating room. I cried through that song – and all the ones that followed. I sobbed until I could hardly breathe. I couldnít sleep all night. My eyes were so puffy the next morning I could hardly open them. But that morning, I had to go back to work and operate again. So I stuffed how I felt. I tried not to think about it. I plugged through my day, my month, my year, my life.


Then the car drove past Ground Zero, and I saw the gaping hole and the new tower being built where the Twin Towers used to be, and it all came back in a flash. I realized I never fully healed from the trauma of that day. Have you?

Issues In Our Tissues

Even as I write this, I am crying again. I feel the loss viscerally. Iím nauseous. My head hurts. My arms ache, as if Iím holding those retractors in the operating room all over again. Although I was blessed to survive September 11, it makes me wonder how many days or weeks or even years September 11 took off my life. How have the issues in my tissues wounded me, aged me, planted seeds for disease? And if I still hold this trauma so deep within me, how many others are still there? How many other times did I have to operate when I wanted to cry? What toll will that take on my body? What toll will it take on yours?

A Prayer For Those We Lost

This post was not supposed to be about me. It was supposed to be a tribute to those we lost. And yet, as I started writing, I realized that those we lost on September 11 would want those who survived to heal. And so I decided to write about my process – so you can examine yours. But before you do, letís join together in a prayer for those weíve lost and those who survived them.

May we never forget those whose lives were terminated prematurely. May their love replace the fear and darkness that caused their deaths, and may that love continue to surround us as we heal from our collective trauma. May their lives – and their deaths – remind us that light, not darkness, rules the world; that peace, not war, reigns supreme; that love, not fear, is the miracle of life. May we hold those beings in our hearts and send a golden beam of light down from our hearts into the core of Mother Earth, where we are connected to all planets, all stars, and the hearts of every being who has ever lived anywhere. May we recycle this healing light on this matrix of golden energy and may we never forget that we are all one – whether weíre Muslim or Christian or Buddhist or Hindu. May we choose to banish hate. May we turn and face the light, even when hate swirls around us. May we find our own true north and gather together, holding hands, united we stand, together we light up the world. May this be so not just in spite of, but because of, the horrors that happened on September 11, ten years ago today. May we never forget. May we finally heal. Amen.

Have You Healed From September 11?

Itís been ten years, but have you healed from the trauma of that day? When we stuff trauma, we wind up sick. Whether itís the trauma of September 11 or your divorce or the loss of your loved one, when you stuff it, you get sick.

What issues still reside in your tissues? What traumas have you stuffed so you could get on with your life? What do you need to release?

Remembering – and releasing,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.


Ameer T.
Ameer T7 years ago

Sure Everyone is having fun now because the war is taking place elsewhere. some place far off from where the cries of children and widowed women, the shrieks of raped girls, the wimpers of kidnapped orphaned children to be sold as sex slaves in the meat markets of Europe and US and indeed the world dont reach your ears.

The bombs are raging on over some desert dwelling, barefoot, naked, illiterate, half civilised people. All the better if the war is far off and not near home. At least your family, loved ones & your children and pets are safe.

So who cares right? even if you lose a bit of sleep over it when you get down to thinking sometime, you are reminded that these muslims are a plague and a threat to everything good and civilised. If left unchecked they may bring the world back to the dark ages. they are barbaric and so they should be killed without remorse, without pity, without consequence. Or perhaps you may think that the world is over populated and this killing will set the clock back a bit.

But Powers have risen and fallen throughout history. America has risen now and seems it is set to fall already with the crises it has run itself into. Consider that another nation rises to power, maybe even muslims and they find similar reasons such as yours to come and bomb you back to oblivion and similarly be deaf, dumb and blind to the pleas and cries of your loved ones. Is that the future you want to see for your children? Coz thats the standard you have set.

Ameer T.
Ameer T7 years ago

True this was a devastating event. I won't implicate some particular group responsible for it either. But once let us take a moment to consider something that may be bigger and better than all of us. Americans and peoples from all nationalities died on that fateful day, so the grief should rightly be shared by the entire world and the loss should be considered global, not just American. But even if someone did not lose a friend or relative in the 9/11 attacks, we are all connected through the bond of humanity. And therefore there is where my appeal lies.

America started a war in 3 countries as a direct consequence of the 9/11 attacks. in ten years How many people do you think were bombed, attacked, arrested, shot, harrassed, murdered, raped, orphaned, widowed, threatened, robbed and killed? i dont think a true figure would ever be reached. but it would be safe to say they were in the millions.

They couldn't all be terrorists. thats common sense. But what they were and are, are our brethren humans. They feel pain as much as you, they love their families as much as you, they love liberty as much as you, they are in a sense just like you.

How many of them would need to continue to die as a consequence of war? how many children should continue to wait for their father or mother to come back, or widows for their spouses.

America has set a bad precedant when it was in power. Would you like some super power of the future to come bomb your house & family to oblivion?

Ameer T.
Ameer T7 years ago

Someone should feel the pain and sorrows of the millions that died and are dying as a result of the Bush retributional wars. If i am sensitive to the pain of Americans (and i am) i should also be sensitive to the sufferings of millions who have lost their families, their children, their spouses, their homes and have had insult added to injury by having been called terrorists as well.

And without also being insensitive to the American tragedy, it is imprudent to assume that the event's tragedy was shared by the whole world. A vast population of the world has no access to cable TV and news channels (think Africa, Afghanistan, remote China and India and many more). Another vast number of people of this planet couldn't afford to care even if they wanted to because they had to fight for their very life for daily bread (think famine striken countries). So an American tragedy is not a global tragedy and it is insulting to assume so.

however it is also vain to assume that everyone in the world was touched by the American loss. But even assuming so, are Americans also touched by the loss of lives their wars have caused? could the Americans possibly console mothers who have lost their babies, daughters that have been raped, husband arrested in the middle of the night never to be seen again, mothers and wives raped and killed in front of children, and homes destroyed.

When America exhibits such lack of sympathy and empathy, why should it expect any itself?

Ameer T.
Ameer T7 years ago

Whatever sympathy the rest of world may have had for America and its loss is probably lost (and certainly very overly compensated) by loss of millions of lives in the wake of 9/11 wars on all muslims. The American loss was paid for with the blood of innocent civilians. Most were children and women and some of those women were pregnant. children were not only killed, but raped and kidnapped to be sold as sex slaves in Europe and the US. the destruction that these wars caused not only to the lives of these people who may have had nothing to do with terrorists or weapons of mass destruction, but also to the resources of their countries, the infrastructure and a permanent psychological wound in the minds of children in the shape of fear that would never heal.

I am waiting for and working for the healing of the victims of 9/11. the true victims of which were the innocents over which war was imposed under false flags with no appologies, no remorse or pity or human compassion. they were not only bombed and lost their loved ones and their homes but were harrassed and permanently branded as terrorists and potential terrorists.

How and when does America expect them and certianly the rest of the world to heal. Should America appologise for bombing a country to the stone ages for reasons that were never true to begin with? i certainly think so. and it would be a starting point to their healing.

Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago

Not entirely and probably never will be.

Anne H.
Anne H7 years ago

9/11 was shocking & I watched on cable tv from another country. Even as I watched the tragedy I was very much aware that our military faces death every day & that other civilians have their home bombed every day.

I understand it is more difficult for the civilian mind to accept & especially those who lost a loved one but we must go on. We must also always remember that every day thousands of our vets put their lives on the line for us....every day. It is just that this time it hit home, usually we don't see the ugliness of the world so graphicly.

Please let yourselves heal & do not forget those around the world who face such tragedy their whole lives.

Anne F.
Anne F7 years ago

I do think that I have found resolve. In tiny steps, I have acted in ways that show I am "dedicated to the great task remaining before us... -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Fa'izah J. A.
Jauharah Andrews7 years ago

We have all healed, the problem is that the wounds are constantly re-opened by the media, by politicians and most cruelly by bigots who fault all Muslims and non-Jewish Arabs for the events of 9/11/01.

It's difficult to be an American born Muslim, let alone a foreign born Muslim in the US or any other Western-oriented country and harder still, to be a Muslim woman because someone inevitably insists that we are oppressed and that we know every other Muslim around the globe.

Waco nor OKC caused there to be a global witch hunt on on Christians, nor has the Israeli's treatment of the Palestinians caused a global witch hunt on all Jews, so why should 9/11 have prompted a global witch hunt on all Muslims. Until these types of terrorists acts can be eradicated, we will forever be wounded.

Sheri P.
Sheri P7 years ago

Can you actually see ground zero from the ground now? When I was there about a year and a half ago you couldn't see anything for all the fencing around it.

Berny P.
berny p7 years ago

Mrs Shakespeare , I am sorry for you but you need help!

But freedom is not free, and I feel we should always honor the sacrifices that our troops and services makes.....