Pivotal moments. They don’t announce themselves. Most of the time they are gone in virtually the same second you become conscious of them. Precisely when you become aware of the fact they hold extraordinary significance. Every life holds a few “lightning bolt” revelations; some experience more than others. It is only in looking back we are allowed to see their weight, importance, impact. Only when looking back do we see them for what they truly are.
The first time I can remember my father sexually abusing me. Not the first time he actually did sexually abuse me. That, I don’t remember. I was too young to process what was happening, so I turned it all into a weird fantasy. Wrapped it in a blanket to hide it from sight. To mask it. Because I was too little to comprehend. But as I grew older, hiding it didn’t work. Making it into something different altogether became impossible. The first time I remember, really remember, when the band-aid was ripped off and I saw what he was doing for what it was, time stood still.
The moment when I grasped it was over. That he was done with me sexually. I was 14. I walked from my bedroom into the living room and noticed specks of dust dancing in the air in the sunbeams shining through the glass window of the front door. I stopped. Suddenly unable to walk. Or move. Watched the particles rise and fall in the dappled light. And just like that, I knew. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. And I took my first breath of air in years.
Standing on the edge of the playground in 6th grade, watching all the other children laugh and play, running and chasing each other, swinging, playing on the merry-go-round while I stood to the side, taking it all in. In a panic. Desperately trying to figure out what had caused the world I had known to completely change. Overnight. What had turned the familiar into something foreign and terrifying and unrecognizable.
Realizing in my late 30’s…it wasn’t the world that changed. It was me. I had been changed. Forever altered by abuse. Unable to ever see life in the way I had only seconds before. I had been tainted. Shattered.
Falling in love and getting married. Finally, a dream come true, or so I thought. Briefly.
Two weeks later, newly married, driving to the city where my husband grew up with all of our worldly possessions, abruptly and unexpectedly realizing he regretted having married me. Didn’t love me and never had. Destroyed because I was unwanted and not cherished. I had been judged, found to be defective and rejected yet again. He was ashamed to introduce me to his friends. He was ashamed of me and didn’t want to take me “home.”
At 14, in Civics class, learning about the dangers of drug abuse, but seeing them as a way to survive the nightmare of my home life. Maybe the only way. A way to survive the abuse. A way to run away without running away. A way to numb the raw pain and agony.
Meeting God for the first time at age 23. Everything changed. Me included. Yet, too many things stayed the same, even as the world shifted and morphed.
The time I begged my husband to be patient with me and asked him to give me a little time to recover when the hurt that was stored in my soul beat me down and chewed me up. I knew I was a mess and I was trying to fix myself, but it was hard. I begged. Only to be told he didn’t want to hear anything about my thoughts or feelings. Only to be told to keep it to myself. That he didn’t want to be bothered. And the way he turned from me in disgust. We had been married less than a year and his rejection broke something deep within me. Drove the pain even further inward.
Graduating from high school. Realizing I made it. I survived. And two weeks later, diploma in hand I left my parents behind.
When I started counseling, so full of hope.
When I finally gave up on counseling. After 13 years of arduous work. Still damaged. Still wounded. Unhealed.
When I tried to kill myself. And failed, even at that.
When my husband left me for another woman. A woman I had called “friend.” The man I had given my heart to. Left it laying, vulnerable before him, even though he didn’t want anything to do with me. The man I believed I would grow old with. A marriage forever lost, though I had prayed, waiting for a miracle. Waiting for him to see me. To want me. The man who walked away because he didn’t love me. Because he didn’t believe in miracles. Or wanted no part of a miracle that involved me.
When I lost my job. Having no other income. Having no one to turn to. No options.
When I lost my home. My dream home.
When I was forced to move back to the place where I grew up. A place I hated, filled with horrible memories that ambushed me at every turn.
There are more. Moments when the fabric of my world was ripped apart, cast aside, trampled. Those times when I shattered, despite my frantic effort to hold all the pieces together. Times that mortally wounded me, altered me, left me for dead.
Pivotal moments. When everything shifted. When the ground gave way and I fell into a black hole. Moments when time stood still, freezing me, trapping me, gutting me. When the impact went extra deep and hit extra hard. Changing me forever.
When time moved forward once again, I was no longer who I had been. In each instance, something precious was lost. Some important piece of me became extinct. ‘Til only the fossil of a life that once was remained, buried under layers of dirt and anguish.
When nothing goes as planned. When the paradigm shifts. And you can never see the universe in the same way ever again. No matter how hard you squint. No matter how strong your glasses…or your desire…or your denial. Moments that change the picture the puzzle would have made. Equilibrium lost, the fall is hard and harsh and hurtful. Nothing is as it seems. Nor will it ever be.
Pivotal moments. When silence embraces you, then chucks you down the rabbit hole. When emptiness slaps you into unconsciousness. Isolation mocks you. For all that was is no more and all that might have been will never be. All you knew and experienced as reality has vanished into the air. And what you see before you, your “new” truth, is tinged with insanity. Those crazy moments. They take your breath away. Holding the pillow tight over your face until your heart, mercifully, stops beating.