Monday, July 03, 2006

It's hit me.

I can’t sleep, partly because it is just too hot, but partly because I think the “anniversary affect” has finally hit me.

Damn! I thought it was going to bypass me.

It’s not just the anniversary which has brought things back to me, tomorrow I have my 5th counselling session and last week was the toughest yet. The first few sessions I just skirted the subject and talked about what I wanted from counselling and what periods I found the hardest over the last year. But last week I finally talked about IT. I stopped speaking about it months ago, at which point it became a script of an event that had happened to someone, not necessarily me, and only an outline of images, sounds and smells. When I talk about it with my counsellor she asks me what I saw, what I was thinking and my emotion at that moment, because I haven’t spoken about it for so long I have to engage with it, think about it and put myself back there. I have to mentally go back and forth to reassemble it all and put it back into place. It’s not easy, nobody has ever asked me what it felt like to be there, but now I am forcing myself to remember.

The emotional part has been the stumbling block for me, and is still proving the hardest part to overcome. For the past year I have done things which would have made me happy before last July, but I don’t feel happy doing them. And some sad and tragic things have happened also, yet I don’t feel sad. I have spent 12 months for the most part feeling just average, never high, never low and I’m slowly breaking this barrier down.

I know that later today I will sit in a room and talk mostly about how I waited to die on a near pitch black train for 40 min’s almost exactly a year ago. My counsellor remarked: “that’s a long time to wait to die”. Yes, it is. It is that feeling that I was convinced I was going to perish there and then, no question, which made me want to vomit on a train last week. Suddenly I feel this emotion at the strangest of times, but at least I am feeling something for a change! When it happened I thought I was dead, it went black, silent and everything stopped, for a few seconds I was knocked out. When I realised I wasn’t dead, but instead in a train filling with smoke from a fireball which was about to consume us, I waited to be burned alive. When I realised it wasn’t a fire I waited to suffocate, and when I realised I wouldn’t suffocate I still thought I would be maimed or killed by another train as it sped down the tunnel. Either way I was convinced I would never see daylight again.

I did, however, and I know I’m lucky. But I feel so guilty, guilty that I not only walked off that train without helping anyone, but stood there for 40 minutes only metres from people who needed help, yet I did nothing, I couldn’t see them. I feel guilty I am not making the most of life, and am still wallowing in all this, when people don‘t have the opportunity. I feel guilty for moaning about how I feel, and how I’m struggling, so many people came off worse, so many people lost loved ones. And not only in London last year, but anywhere this happens, and keeps happening.

I have just caught a repeat of Live8, the weather is hot and muggy and on Thursday I catch the train into London to go to the same exhibition I was exhibiting at last year, with the same friends and staying in the same student halls. It feels strange. I will be in London for the anniversary, but will do little to mark it, I’m not sure what I want to do on that day, if anything. I wish it was just another day… but it wont be… whatever I do that day I know my thoughts will only be on one thing.


Blogger Mitch said...

Just wanted to wish you all the best for the exhibition as it goes without saying what we'll be thinking of on Friday

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Lynda said...

Hi! No guilt friend, you were obviously in shock.... it happens! And keep talking and feeling the feelings, cry if you have to. I have ptsd (post traumatic stress) from 3 assaults on the job.. Ive learned one must talk lots and let the feelings flow, cry, get mad whatever when youve been traumatized, to work through it. Emdr therapy is great to release these terrible events stuck in the mind... Believe me I know Im living it Take care now!

12:25 PM  
Blogger Jo said...


I have just come across your words, feeling the need to look around little and hear from people who went through it all last July. I have yet to read much more of your blog, but your post here has touched me.


I've heard it said before. But why? God knows - look what happened to you, what you went through, what you thought was going to happen? You acted instinctively and many others did the same. You lived...I guess...because you did. There's no reason. They died because...they did. It's heartbreaking, but how can there be reason in randomness? It's so sad hon...I can quite see how you would search and search for a meaning - why was I in that carriage, why was I not killed, why did I respond as I did? But there's no meaning, and no answer...You did what made sense for you, to get through it all, that day. And in that respect - you did a hell of a good job. You made it. I bet a lot of people - your family and friends, were very pleased that however you managed it, you got out.

You feel guilty that you're not making the most of life? You feel numb? Goodness Steve - look at what happened to you! Give yourself a break! Your emotions have shut down, it's simple protection...they'll return, give them time. Be gentle with yourself.

I hope you don't mind me posting rather expressively like this - this is my first time visiting your blog - but I just thought that this (I'm writing on 7th) is going to be a tough day for you and wanted to say something if I could. Try to be easy on yourself.

6:14 AM  
Blogger doris said...

Hugs sweetheart... you did what you did and you can be given a lot of reasons why you should or shouldn't have gone off and helped others. But no-one can do that. What goes on in our brains is the hardest.

Just because you survived doesn't mean you now have to be a hero. You are you. I don't know you and you could have been a bit of a dickhead before all this but all that is immaterial. You went through something horrific. Your views and experiences are as valid as the person whose legs were blown off or the one who died slowly.

It is all such a horrible thing. So much suffering you ALL went through.

Thinking of you and all the others.

8:55 AM  
Blogger Don't Call Me Ishmael said...

Steve, I've been reading your blog regularly since I first saw it linked to Rachel's blog so I feel like I know you a little bit. I sincerely believe the reason you feel so guilty about not being able to help the other injured people on the train is because you are a good person, not a bad person! An unfeeling person would do exactly that, feel nothing. I know a little bit about guilt-- I very recently had to put my kitty, Hero, to sleep and although this may sound rather insignificant in comparison to your trauma, as an animal lover who had never had to be the sole decision maker about a pet's euthanasia I was (and still am) wracked with guilt for doing it. In the end I think it's only right and fair that I should feel guilty. I loved Hero and he deserves to be mourned with all my soul. I've come to believe in following your & Rachel's blog that intense feelings of guilt after surviving a major trauma are qualities that I admire in a person because it demonstrates the depth of your feelings. From what I understand you were injured very badly yourself. You should be happy that you are still alive but I don't think there is any particular route your life should take in appreciation of surviving the bombing of the train. You are obviously a thoughtful and caring person for whom recovering from this tragedy wil take a long time. I think the fact that you are still here is enough for now, take your time to figure out the rest.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thought of you. Glad that the counselling is helping.

Guilt is a wound caused by proximity to death and surviving it when others died. Ignore people who say that you did something wrong, you did nothing wrong, you were hurt, you survived, good, that is one less life the bomber destroyed.

The guilt lies with the bombers and them alone, not those who survived their bomb. Whatever the vicious and ignorant say.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

hi steve...hope you got through the day was an incredibly emotional day for me and i am still wiped many people expressed feelings of guilt on friday...we all feel guilty for surviving and for doing nothing...but we need to let that go and celebrate our lives...the people that died would not wantus all to torture ourselves...if you had died you would want the others to move on and live happy healthy lives would you not?
hugs & love hx

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to hear from you. I was actually thinking of texting you the last few days as wanted to see what you were up to.
Glad to hear you are smiling again and spending times with old friends and new. I have been doing much of the same and may write some on my blog...can't find the energy.
Anyway glad to hear things are on the up..I promise to email in more detail soon.

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8:06 PM  

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