I was just 23 years old, working for Morgan Stanley in an entry level job, in WTC Tower 2 on the 74th Floor way up in the sky. September 11, 2001 was actually my one year work anniversary with Morgan Stanley, and I was eager and excited that morning to mark the occasion. I had a joyful spirit and optimism about the next phase of my life, just one year in NYC after graduating from Tufts.
After literally running for my life that horrible day and witnessing the randomness of death, terror and destruction - in a flash - that joyful spirit became a very distant and mostly unrecognizable memory. That next phase of my life became one long, agonizing, chaotic and detached existence in desperate need of healing. At 38 years old now, I still struggle to experience joy. I still have frequent nightmares and insomnia, and PTSD symptoms every day. But after more than a decade paralyzed with survivor guilt (on multiple levels, as paternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors) and on a self destructive path for years, I finally broke and allowed myself to recognize the trauma and treatment I needed. And I decided I deserved to live again.
On the day of the attack though, after my shoes flew off in the commotion, I ran wildly with bare feet, dodging falling metal, concrete and bodies. A ringing in my ears drowned out everything else as I tried to find cover. I survived with no lasting physical scars.
The only current marks on my feet are self inflicted, as I resorted to self harm in dark moments to feel deserving of the life that was spared. I have come very far from the darkest days. I am now determined to finally start a new, "new" phase of my life, focused on healing and cooperation, and empathy.
Rebecca was tattooed during Healing Ink NY by artist Katie Gray at the Rivington Hotel overlooking the Freedom Tower on July 12th, 2017