Seventeen years ago today was a nightmare. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Junior High School sitting in math class, slightly disengaged because it was the first week of school. But, I started paying attention when the teacher mentioned that the towers were hit. He took us outside to see because although we were in Brooklyn, you could see the smoke throughout NYC. A few hours later, we were sent home. My best friend @girlbossrn and I walked home. I’ve never seen Pitkin Avenue so deserted to this day. ALL of the businesses closed early and my whole family was stuck in Manhattan while I sat home alone worried. That was one of the worst days of my life, and it changed my life forever.
In 2001, cell phones were not as common. It actually did not even matter because after a short while, cell phones were not working. The only phones that worked were landlines. I was so grateful to have had a landline that I eventually was able to speak to my mother, sister, and brother on. The trains were down, and most people had to walk over the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge. It was total mayhem. I stayed home alone until about 7 or 8 PM. Twelve years old, home alone after what I learned later on to be a terrorist attack, lost and confused.
I had no clue what terrorism was. I did not know who was attacking America and why. I lived in fear for a while after that. To this day, that fear affects me. I remember vividly, not being able to sleep for about one week. It was so bad that I had to sleep in the bed with my parents. I can remember sleeping with them and shaking uncontrollably. Again, at that age, I was not exposed to terrorism at all. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was unfamiliar to me because I was so young at that time. But this…This was the most traumatic event I have ever experienced in my life.
Seventeen years later, I am skeptical about people acting “strange” when I am in public. I am extremely paranoid and often on edge. For a while after that, I was scared to fly. I literally had to sleep on every flight in order for me to feel comfortable. About two years ago on a flight to Jamaica, I experienced what I later on learned to be an anxiety attack. The motion of the plane made me feel like I was going to die. I could not sleep and I could not relax no matter what I did. It was my worst flight experience ever! I’ve had similar experiences on the flights I’ve taken after that event. Most recently, I had to take Benadryl (Doctor’s recommendation) in order to relax myself on the plane.
Leaving New York allowed me to breathe better. Taking the train everyday in NYC heightened my anxiety. A weight has been lifted off of my shoulders for so many reasons. As I build my new life in my new city, I will work on myself. Focus on how to get past this trauma that I’ve experienced, and learn how to move forward.
RIP to all of the fallen soldiers from 9/11/01 and much thanks to the survivors especially those who assisted in the recovery efforts of 9/11.