I think we all have pivotal moments in our lives which have a tendency to reshape our perspectives—the way we view ourselves, our lives, and the world around us.
When I reflect on my life, but especially my adult life, I can vividly recall a handful of these times. I have shared the obvious positive ones—my wedding, marriage, and the birth of my daughter. But recently I personally had two of these pivotal “moments” if you will. They were not actually moments, but events that slightly shook my world. I think about these as gentle shakes, not enough to knock me down and then kick me while I’m down there…but enough of a shake to grab me by shoulders, hold firmly, while forcing me to look at my life differently… a large dose of perspective. For those of you who have been forced to swallow a dose of perspective may agree that it can be hard to swallow, may even get stuck in your throat and cause heart burn, but ultimately know it will make you feel better and thus make you a better human being. Perhaps that pill can come in the form of tough love, bad luck, or natural consequences.
I will start with the first. As I have written about in the last few months, the day I discovered I lost my (second) pregnancy was a day I will never forget, nor will I forget the day five days following when my body expelled the “products of conception.” I write “products of conception” for a few reasons: 1. This is the term the medical community uses to describe this biological event. And 2. It is somewhat difficult to describe what I witnessed as a “baby.” Truthfully, I felt it was shocking and gory. But in all reality, it was a baby that was just in formation a month prior…in development…with a beating heart. And it no longer was. So while “products of conception” sounds medical and technical, it is easier than calling it a baby. It makes it less personal, less sensitive….less painful.
That entire experience did shake my world. It made me realize that I was not immune to tragedy or grief, and that it can happen to me and not just “other women.” It allowed me to read, to research, to blog, to reach out, to engage, and to relate. If writing has done one thing for me besides allowing self expression, it has allowed me to relate with others, which is incredibly gratifying and fulfilling, even if what we are relating about is painful and difficult.
It taught me how fragile life is. Granted this little life was short lived from conception to death, but it was the loss of a dream and loss of a little person that could have been that compelled me to take a new perspective. As I expressed through Facebook on the 7th day of November in words of gratitude for the month, “Today I am thankful for the miracle of life. The intricate inner making of a baby blows my mind. Scientifically and biologically, everything has to be just so for a child to enter this world safely. I will never take this for granted again.” I know I have been thankful for my first born since the day she took her first breath, but if anything could make me even more thankful, this experience could. Although I would like to have more children, it showed me that my current family is not incomplete. In fact, it is bursting and full. If we did get blessed with a miracle again one day, then our hearts would expand even more to accommodating the growing love. But to be clear, it is full now on this very day, this very moment, and this very second.
Then shortly after this pivotal event, I was gently shaken again. I had an argument with a lifelong friend. I initially thought it would be a falling out and yet another loss. I was preparing myself for the worse, just as I did when I was lying on the cold hard exam table in September. This “shaking” was a version of tough love that I normally do not respond well to. I have always been tender-hearted (to a point where I begged God for a little tougher of a heart), so when others communicated things in a way that was somewhat painful, I tended to internalize it and make it much more personal than necessary. Through this argument with this lifelong friend, I learned something about myself and about her. I learned what her “Achilles tendon” was…the part of her that was extremely sensitive and should be handled with the greatest of care. At the same time, I realized that although I always prided myself in being kind, respectful of others, and a high communicator, I did have times when I did not practice these traits. The “shaking” was a bit of a wakeup call, yet another dose of perspective that was hard to swallow but ultimately made me a better human being. Who knew that after almost 30 years, one could learn more about herself and her best friend?
So although the last few months have been trying and difficult, I have a new found sense of inner strength. I have always heard the motto, “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness” and I can say that’s how I feel right about now. Granted there are times I am unkind, but I do plan to reflect on my actions and behaviors more closely so that I can be my best self.
Today on this 10th day of November, I am thankful for those mild earthquakes in life that gently shake us and compel us to look at our world differently and to perhaps swallow a pill of perspective that will make us healthier in the long run. Here’s to our health—mind, body, and spirit.