On Tuesday, October 31, a terrorist, driving a rented truck, entered the bike path along the West Side Highway, running over several cyclists and coming to a stop as he rammed into a school bus. Three New York City public schools–Stuyvesant High School, P.S. 89 and I.S. 89–were all just feet from the final collision and dozens of children and their parents watched as the driver exited the truck, raised a gun and was killed by an NYC police officer. Another Tribeca school, P.S. 234, is a half-block away.
Three blocks east is our NYC therapy practice.
Nearly all of our patients either live or work (or both) in Tribeca, Battery Park City or the Financial District. Surrounding the World Trade Center, none of these neighborhoods are strangers to terrorist attacks. Our practice has been in Tribeca for nearly nine years. Our director, Matt Lundquist, lived in Tribeca several years before that and moved to New York City just a few weeks before September 11, 2001. After the attacks, he spent time at the Worth Street Crisis Center, counseling New Yorkers affected by the tragedy.
We are shaken–in sadness in being reminded that we are, in fact, vulnerable. We are concerned for our friends and neighbors who have been frightened. We spent much of the last week caring for our patients who have been scared by these events.
As therapists, we’ve also spent some time allowing ourselves to feel shaken. Much is often said about the importance of being strong in response to tragedy and about the strength of New Yorkers ourselves. What’s often left out, though, is that being strong isn’t separable from recognizing how scary something is or being in touch with our vulnerability. As human beings, we have a remarkable capacity to recover from terrifying things, but to do so, we must also be in touch with our fears.
What is our advice as therapists? Love one another. Allow yourself to feel shaken. If that feeling persists, get help. We’re here.