I describe a defining moment as an event or series of events that affects us to the core of our being and can be a catalyst for change. It’s a time in our life when we are ready to face certain truths about ourselves and the direction our lives are going. It may be a time when we put our foot down and say, “Enough is enough. I am not going to ride these waves that I’ve attached myself to any longer. I’m going to make different choices because I have the power to so.”
One of my most defining, life changings moments came on a nondescript day in October. My daughter called me at work to tell me she had overslept and missed the bus. Losing my patience because this was becoming a recurring event, I angrily told her to, “get out of bed and walk to school.” Thirty minutes later my cell phone rang. It was the police telling me that a car had hit my child as she was walking across the street. They patched me through to the ambulance, and I heard this tiny little voice saying to me, “Mommy, I’m hurt.” This wasn’t the snarky 16-year-old girl I talked to earlier in the morning. This was my little girl; scared, injured and being whisked away to a trauma hospital because the closest hospital could not attend to the injuries she sustained. I told her I loved her, and the paramedics tell me to get to the hospital right way.
The police led me to the emergency room. I couldn’t believe that the young girl lying there was my daughter. Her face was swollen almost beyond recognition, her front teeth were missing and she was bound to a board by her head to she couldn’t move. My husband and son arrived about the same time I did, and thankfully the hospital let all of us stay in the room with her during the long and exhausting series of tests and exams. This is all I will share about Aria’s accident. Her life has been altered but she is a thriving and happy 24-year-old, living a purposeful life.
Why do I share this vague account of my daughter’s accident? Because of a defining moment, that happened simultaneously upon getting the news of Aria’s accident. When I received the phone call from the police, I remember, I stood up and heard something crack in my brain; the sound of breaking glass. The shock of my daughter’s accident triggered an intense flashback of a life long ago forgotten. Just for a split second I saw a girl of twenty sitting at an airport, broken and bruised waiting to get on a plane.
I realized that just as walking across the street had altered the life of my precious child, my life was altered by the sound of breaking glass in my brain. I began to realize that my very repressed memories were trying to explode out all at once. When my impossible to maintain snow-globe world was shattered I began untangling the truth about my life.
I have a rather debilitating case of complex PTSD. I’m quite positive that I have always had PTSD because of the life I was living and the choices I’ve made because I was in survival mode. But the defining moment of being diagnosed, propelled me to process my past, get help and continue to heal. It’s been both a painful, yet purposeful journey the past eight years. Sometimes it’s hard to feel the benefit because of the pain. But that is also part of the journey.
Yesterday, I had another very profound defining moment. I awoke to the wisdom, that I am going to waver and sometimes feed into my construct, but I realized that I can be compassionate towards my truth and pain. I’m going to try and allow myself to feel the feelings as they come up and not smush them down. I’m trying to understand that I was never a “person” to anyone, ever, those first twenty years, just a means to many people’s end. Although that may sound terrible, because it is terrible. It is the truth. I always rest calmer in the truth.
The compassion I will feel towards my truth and pain is what I’ve taken away from my defining moment yesterday. It’s not going to be easy, and I will need a lot of reassurance along the way, but from another noticed defining moment I realized that I have the power to make this choice.
Thank you for reading Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph