"It didn't break London, but it broke some of us."
7/7 survivor Emma Craig was aged just 14 when she was caught up in the Aldgate Station blast in July 2005. Yesterday the 24 year old reflected upon the emotional scars of that day and our collective discomfort in acknowledging that some were 'broken' by it.
As a young priest who was heavily involved in the Edgware Rd bombing I had no idea that not only my emotions but also my ministry would be fundamentally transformed on July 7 2005. I had donned my clerical shirt like the impenetrable cape of a Marvel superhero and strode under the cordon to offer pastoral support to the emergency services. Neither my title, nor my attire proved any defence against the rising panic that would overwhelm me in the subsequent months.
I particularly resonated with Craig's address when she said,
"All of us lost our innocence on that day."
I remember vividly the moment when, having provided a television for the emergency services, we watched the Russell Sq. bus bombing unfold together. Having all assumed that this had been an isolated terrorist incident, we realised London was in fact experiencing a coordinated attack. The temperature in our little church hall, which was serving as an operational base, dropped like a stone. It felt as though my assumptions about humanity, and my ability to offer anything constructive to it, had just melted away.
For those us who suffered emotional health issues after 7/7, admission was hugely complicated. Mental health stigma is hard to overcome at the best of times, but in the wake of 7/7 it also felt like the admission of defeat. We were all so busy claiming that the terrorists hadn't won, that being broken by anxiety or depression seemed unpatriotic.
Many of us struggled with conflicting emotions, awarded but feeling fraudulent, relieved but terrified, passive but raging with anger, alive with faith and devoid of it at the same time. As I sweated in my bed through waves and waves of panic attacks it was obvious I was defeated, but that didn't mean terrorism had won.
'Redemption' is easy to apply to other people's stories. It is easy to be glib about how, through some divine mystery, all of this pain and confusion was the path to something more worthwhile. When it is your pain and confusion: When 10 years later you still feel like you have dropped your keys down the drain, redemption is a bit more mysterious. I don't find comfort in the comparison between what was and what is, but in the presence of One who shares in our suffering and offers us hope.