Turning points

Two years ago, I took a few small footsteps that began my changing the course of my life. Those steps marked a personal turning point, as did many of the more figurative steps that followed them.

Early last year, a friend suggested childhood trauma continued to impact me in ways I couldn’t necessarily see. After first dismissing her words, I soon came to understand how right she was. I began consciously pausing, especially when I felt urgency to respond. This, too, was a turning point for me.

Recently, my ten-year-old asked me, “What’s PTSD again?” Before I had a chance to respond, he sagely continued, “Oh, right! It’s when you can’t tell the difference between the past and the present.”

Exactly so.

Later last year, I practiced some very clear boundary setting in sometimes profoundly uncomfortable situations. Each time I did so, I made it clearer to myself that I am no longer ten years old and trapped. Each experience setting boundaries–actively acknowledging that my present is not my past–was its own turning point.

Late last year, I began doing the trauma-releasing exercises described by Elizabeth Stanley, Ph.D. in her Widen the Window. Each time I did one of these exercises, I became more deeply in touch with who I am now, helping me more clearly understand in my bones what is and is not a good fit for no-longer-ten-year-old me.

Each time I did one of these exercises, my life’s course shifted ever so slightly. Indeed, one might even say it “turned.”

When I contemplate the idea of a singular turning point, I find no such thing in my life. Instead, I see a series of slight turns that, taken together, constitute a positive personal sea change.

A single initial turning point began that sea change. But that initial change alone would only have taken me so far. It was all the many turning points I faced, accepted, and weathered over the last couple of years that have led me to stand where I am now: a place from which I can increasingly distinguish the present from the past, and from which ever more choices become apparent.

Today, I welcome all the many turning points that led me here,

and all the unmet turning points I have yet to shape.

 

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