In the early stages of the onset of the PTSD, flashbacks were a common occurrence in my daily life. They were a constant reminder of what I saw, what I heard and what I smelled. Any similar prop which presented itself to me caused the prompting of a frozen memory to become the reality of the day. The past merged with the present and my mind became a tangled web of misunderstood messages, thoughts and (on occasion) ill behaviors too.
Over these many years, the flashbacks have decreased. Now their arrival is usually beset by some prop which resembles past days walking the field and watching all which resulted from 9/11, and post days as I watched over those who suffered most. Yet there are times when the remembrances result because I am inadvertently drawn to something viewed on television or heard in the every day doings of life. One such incident took place last evening as I watched the ending of a movie titled, “Unstoppable.” The storyline is based on a true story. In short, the movie tells the tale of two men who risk their lives to help stop a train which is on the fast track to destruction. Their need to help their fellow man outweighs their fear of imminent death.
Now, I usually try to avoid watching any type of movie or television program which may possibly prompt a negative memory. I abhor any violent programming and tend to prefer the comedies and romances which allow me to dream. But, as I watched the last few scenes of this particular movie, my mind was immediately transferred to the image of the passengers and crew members aboard Flight 93 and the remnants of the crash site. My thoughts focused on what must have gone through their minds in those last moments as they made their choice to help save humanity. I kept hearing the word “heroism” across the whispers of my ear. I felt the mixed emotions of pride and pain for these heroic individuals. And in the midst of these feelings, came a sense of helplessness as well. I felt somehow responsible for not having been able to aid them in some way. After all, I was a law enforcement professional and responsible to serve and protect. And on that fateful day in our history, I fear I failed to do so. If this is the deep-seeded feeling which still lies dormant in the dark abyss of my mind, I pray for a reprieve from the distant memories to come soon and set my mind in motion to heal.