Every year when September 11th comes around, I am brought back to where I was on that fateful day….

Twin Towers

I was 20 years old and working my first full-time job.  That morning I was getting ready for work and had the tv on in my bedroom.  The news was covering a plane that had hit one of the 2 twin towers, and at that point no one really knew what was going on, or if this was just a freak accident.   By that point I had to leave for work.

Once I got there, no one knew what was happening.  We didn’t have a tv in our break room, and this was pre-internet access available anywhere/everywhere.  I worked in a call center, so most of the conversation as the day went on was about the events.  I don’t remember the details, but I do remember the overall theme was fear.   What was going to happen next?  Were we safe in our high-rise building (ok, only 8 stories, but the tallest building in town)?  How many people were hurt/injured/killed?

The tense atmosphere carried over to my personal life once I was home that evening.  My live-in boyfriend had  gotten an unexpected night off, and he was home and angry.  This was my first real adult relationship, and it has turned into something that no relationship should ever be.  I had become fearful of someone who was supposed to love me and keep me safe.  Despite the fact that I had put my own dreams on hold in order to get a full-time job so he could finish school, I had become his punching bag–both literally and figuratively.  As I cringed while he punched a whole through our kitchen wall, and looked down at the bruise on my own leg still healing from a week prior, I knew something had to change.  I didn’t deserve this life, and there were dependable responders out there who could deliver me to safety.

A call to my own local law enforcement that night changed my life for the better.  I was headed down a dark path, but luckily saw the light and turned a different direction.  From that point on I became more fearless than I ever thought I could be.  I moved across the country by myself because I wanted to.  I worked my tail off as a self-employed individual, trying to make something of myself based on my own ability and hard work.  I didn’t always succeed, but I had removed that nagging fear that was always holding me back.

Now, 14 years later, my life has a whole new purpose with my family to care for.  My girls will probably never understand the full impact of 9/11, but I only need them at this age to feel safe and protected.  I found a great book for my daughter a couple years ago that talks about the day after the tragedy.  Kids arrived at school where their teachers kept them safe, their parents did the same at home, and the world carried on for most of us.  While it is important to remember those who were lost, for the little ones it’s just as important that they don’t worry about it happening to them, and that we can focus on the positives.

The biggest outcome I took from that day was how life could change in an instant, and it was never too soon to start living intentionally.  That was a pretty big revelation for someone still in my invincible young adulthood.  It is definitely a day I will #NeverForget.

Where were you on 9/11, and how has it changed you over the past 14 years?