Yahoo! is asking Americans how September 11 changed them. Below is an account from a reader.
Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror, and I hardly recognize myself. I've changed a lot in the past ten years. Not so much on the outside, but on the inside. Tragic events will do that to a person. I'm in a wheelchair, disabled from birth, but that never stopped me from doing a lot of things I wanted to do. I had friends, interests, went places, and for the most part, I was happy and content with my life. Then in an instant, everything changed.
[Your story: How has September 11 changed you?]
September 11, 2001, started out like any other day. At least for those few minutes before the phone rang. It was a call from someone telling us about the terrorist attacks. We turned on the TV and watched in horror. I experienced so many emotions at once. I cried for the victims that died. What did they do to deserve this? All they did was go to work or get on an airplane that morning. I wondered if they knew what was happening and hoped they didn't because that would be too cruel. I was sad for the victims' families, who would never see their loved ones again. I was happy for the survivors and thankful that no one I knew was a victim. I was angry at the maniac who orchestrated the attacks and the people who blindly followed his instructions. These people were total strangers, and yet, I felt hate for them. I'm not a person who usually hates someone, but there it was - pure hate!
For a long time, I tried to convince myself that the attacks didn't affect me at all. Then one day, I was home alone, and I heard an airplane go over our house. I was terrified! The only thing I could think of to do was to sit in a doorway like they tell you to do during a tornado. Yeah, like that was going to help. That's when I realized life as I knew it was over.
Ten years later, I still feel the effects of the terrorist attacks and the continuous news coverage. I wish I could say I changed for the better, but I can't. Gone is the happy, trusting person I used to be. She has been replaced by a negative, suspicious person, who never leaves the house, is scared all the time, has no real interests anymore, and has no close friends. I have regrets now. My life is filled with "should'ves" now. "I should've done better in school", "I should've gone to college", "I should've applied for more jobs", "I should've learned to drive", etc. When you are young, you think you will have all the time in the world for these things. I guess the most important thing I learned from 9-11 is not to waste time or miss opportunities because you might not get a second chance. I'm working on changing that now. I can't go back, but I can move forward and do things differently now.