Share Your Thoughts

Q Although it’s been a year since the Sept. 11 attacks, I still don’t feel safe and normal the way I used to. I worry about what will happen next and wake up with dreams of buildings falling and wars starting. I don’t know how to get over these fears.

A Everyone in the world feels less safe since Sept. 11. The attacks ruptured the very fabric of this culture and made us aware, for the first time, of our vulnerability as a country. This affects all of us very personally. Although most of us were not in New York City or the Pentagon during the attacks, witnessing traumatic events is very similar to experiencing them. They affect us internally and shake us deeply. Part of the ongoing fear you are experiencing is the lack of attention on feeling, sharing, and healing this trauma. The focus has been on retaliation, external security measures, and shopping to spur the economy. Deeper questions of why this happened and what does it mean to live in a post 9/11 world are being ignored.

Thus, it is incumbent upon you to do your own soul-searching in this area. Write, talk, and share about how your life has changed in the last 12 months. Get in touch with how you are different and what that means to you. Feel the loss, vulnerability, and fear. You will see yourself, others, and the world differently. It is through touching your own true feelings that you will find inner strength, trust, and meaning. This is where real security and peace lie.

Last September I lost my husband in the World Trade Center. It was the biggest tragedy my family has ever encountered. We moved from Malaysia 17 years ago and became U.S. citizens. Since we are American Muslims, who also suffered a great loss, we have felt very awkward in this conflict. We are hurt, ashamed, angry, and confused. Often we don’t know which side to be on.

A I am deeply sorry for your husband’s death in this terrible attack. It will continue to bring up many feelings such as shock, anger, fear, betrayal, depression, and hopefully acceptance and love. I hope you have lots of support from your ethnic community and the American community at large. Give yourself and your family plenty of time to grieve and heal from your profound loss.

You are in a tense position as an American Muslim. I am sure you can understand the many sides of the issue, which can be confusing. It will be harder for you to get polarized into just one side: such as it’s all the Taliban’s fault, or Muslims are always aggressive and war-like, or America deserved this. You probably realize this is much more complex than that. It would be greatly valuable to you and others if you could speak from your experience as an American Muslim, who suffered greatly from the attacks. This would expose people to the many facets that are often simplified or ignored.

Alzak Amlani is a counseling psychologist. You can reach him at (650) 325-8393 or

Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393.

Alzak A.

Alzak Amlani is a counseling psychologist of Indian descent in the Bay Area. (650) 325-8393.