You know, I think I've been writing about politics so much recently, because it is easier than writing about how I feel. A lot of my frustration and anger can be shifted into political argument, and besides, it is also a way of getting back to normality for me. I was always very interested in politics; after July 7th happened, the interest in the news became overwhelming. Being unwittingly at the epicentre of one of the biggest news stories in UK made the personal, political and the political, personal. And so it has gone on ever since.
Right now, I can see that things still aren't properly back to normal, despite a great deal of effort put into trying to make it that way. Despite a promising early start, I now find it too difficult to get on the tube in the morning, if it is crowded. And it always is crowded, and so I can't get on. I get taxis instead, which I can't afford.
I get the tube back in the evening, though that is also hard: not so much the tube journey, but the walking back through the dark streets around Finsbury Park and the crowds of youths hanging about. They frighten me too, though I try not to let it show.
I find it extremely difficult to concentrate at work at the moment. It just does not interest me as much as it used to; it feels all wrong - too trivial - and the part of my life that used to get passionate about advertising seems a long way away now. Secretly, I would like to leave my job, and do something else. Writing. That's all I really want to do now. Not advertising strategy, not really, not any more. I try, I like my team, I smile and laugh, I am really grateful to my company for their support. I try to work hard, I try not to talk about what I am thinking and feeling inside. Somedays I wake up and I feel frightened, or sad, all day, or find that my mind is floating away from my desk and down, down into the darkness of the tunnel, and I am still re-living it, again, unwillingly feeling the horror and fear that I did not feel at the time. I was numb at the time. Sometimes I wish I still was.
I stopped going to counselling months ago. I don't take anti-depressants or sleeping pills. This blog is the only place I talk about July and after. The rest of my life goes on, and I try to stay connected to it all, with greater or lesser degrees of success. Some things are almost impossible. Admin. Listening to beautiful music. The dark smoke I still smell makes it hard to draw breath sometimes, and breathe freely, be normal.
I don't know how many other survivors feel the same. I know dozens who do, but I don't know the full number.
I've taken the day off work today as holiday, to be quiet, to write and to consider. Hence this blog post. I am reading my whole story all over again, from the beginning. It's making me sad to read it. It's very hard to think about all this stuff, and to think of all of these other people's stories as I am reading my own.
I have been asked to tell this story so many times, that it has become almost unreal to me. But at the same time, it has become a part of me, and now, still, much of what I do, think, feel is defined by the events of that July summer morning and after.
I have been asked to write the story again, the whole story, all of it. What happened before July 7th, on that day, and what happened after. The story of Rachel from North London, an anonymous commuter, like so many others, who got on a train one day, and for whom everything changed.
To jog my memory, I am listening to John Gaunt's BBC radio programme
of 7/7/2005, which covers what happened as the events unfolded. Londoners call in, and tell their stories, live, during the show. I recognise the voices of some of the callers now, they were strangers to me then, but I have met them since, we were brought together by the bombs on July 7th.
I also re-read the thread on urban 75
where I first posted my account, which became the BBC account
, which became this diary. My story was just one of many stories, and so many were hurt far more than me, so many were bereaved, so many were terrified. I can only tell my own story
, and I tell it, over and over, simply because it helps me, and because people have said that it helped them, and because it could be the story of anyone. Or so I think.
It's hard to know what to do. I get verbally attacked
, regularly, by people who question my motives, for writing, for speaking out. I have had to question my motives searchingly, myself. What right do I have to speak out and say what I do? When I was not badly hurt?
Only the same right as anyone else, and after all, this is just a small personal blog where I talk about what I think, like millions upon millions of other bloggers. Nobody has to listen, nobody has to read. But people do listen, they do read, and some of them leave comments, send emails, get in touch, amongst them many other people like me who were caught up in the London bombings, and other terrible events. They share their stories, and I am moved, and humbled, and grateful for their sharing them. It helps to know I am not alone, that I am like other human beings, and that we can listen to each other.
I have learned so much about other people through this event, and often what I learn surprises me. Blogging and publishing on the internet gives many people a voice and a means of sharing what they think. Not all of it is what you'd want to hear
. Some of what is written is pure vitriol, some of it is pure compassion. All of it is deeply human.
Many voices, many millions of people. This blog, as I always said, is just one voice, from the darkness of the underground train. It's me, my story, and thank you for reading it, and for coming with me on this strange journey.