“I have a theory. My theory is about moments, moments of impact. My theory is that these moments of impact, these flashes of high intensity that completely turn our lives upside down actually end up defining who we are. The thing is, each one of us is the sum total of every moment that we’ve ever experience with all the people we’ve ever known, and it’s these moments that become our history. Like our own greatest hits of memories that play and replay in our minds over and over again.”
This is a quote from a cheesy Channing Tatum movie that I’ve watched about 37 times. There is something that really resonated with me – these moments.
After a few transition years, it’s interesting to take a look back and identify my own moments of impact – those moments when my life got shaken to its core, but also laid the path for what was to come next. My move to Vancouver has become a journey of self-discovery and awareness.
This is a post I’ve been sitting on for a while. I have written it in my head 100 times, then crumpled it up, laughed about it, cried over it, figuratively lit it on fire and then re-wrote it.
“A moment of impact. A moment of impact whose potential for change has ripple effects far beyond what we can predict. Sending some particles crashing together, making them closer than before. While sending others spinning off into great ventures, landing where you never thought you’d find them. You see, that’s the thing about moments like these; you can’t, no matter how hard you try, control how they’re going to affect you. You’ve just got to let the colliding particles land where they may, and wait, until the next collision.”
MOMENT OF IMPACT 1: A MARRIAGE UNRAVELS
My most defining moment of impact to date is when my relationship, with the person whom I thought (at the time) was the love of my life, ended.
I read somewhere recently that procrastination, when it comes to being creative, is rooted in fear. Fear has stopped me from writing this for the past three years. I was a little afraid of what people would think and what they would say. I was terrified at the idea of baring myself to the ‘public’, at being vulnerable, at expose myself. I also think it is why my writing has been stuck for the last few months. It was time to get personal.
I think the gory details are irrelevant at this point but to set the stage: we fell in love fast and hard, there was a cross-ocean move, another move, an apartment, a dog, a proposal, a house, doubt, deceit, a wedding, more deceit, more doubt, heartbreak, a breaking point, a cross-country solo move and, finally; a divorce. It was a love with an epic start and a catastrophic ending. In the end, I sold everything I (we) owned, quit my job and move across the country to a city I’d never been before with nothing more than 4 suitcases, my dog and hope.
To say that I was a mess after that is an understatement; I was heartbroken and raw. Time, distance and a whole lot of self-reflection and soul-searching can do wonders for the healing process.
Now that the wounds have all but healed, it’s a lot easier to reflect on how this ‘moment of impact’ fundamentally changed my life. It has changed who I am, what my values are and what I want from life. If I’m being honest, I think that’s a great thing. I am more self-aware and open to what the future holds. I guess you can start to piece together why the quote has such a profound effect on me.
It was a recent article by Mark Manson entitled “Shut up and Be Patient
” that spurred me to stop procrastinating and write this for the final time. His analogy of the titanic heading towards the iceberg was the perfect reflection of the time leading up to the break-up and where the journey has taken me over the past 3-4 years.
MOMENT OF IMPACT 2: FALL 2015 | THE ‘ANNIVERSARY’: THE STRUGGLE AND NEW-FOUND CURIOSITY
In the fall of every year since that break up, I struggle. Uncomfortable feelings start to resurface just in time for the break-up anniversary, so to speak. In October, like clockwork, the struggle came. I shut myself off, was sensitive and irritable, ate everything in sight and emotionally shut down.
However, this year something was different – the struggle was just different. I was sensing it was no longer about the failed relationship and a broken heart. I knew this time it was about learning, growth and clarity. It brought with it a whole new emotion – CURIOSITY.
Instead of the cycle of emotions that came with this anticipated discomfort; me not addressing them and moving on as if everything was fine. This year, I was curious, frightened and excited (all at once). Curious because I knew I was ready to look inside myself – to open my heart and to grow. Frightened – well because that is scary shit. Some people spend a lifetime trying to avoid looking inward and dealing with their feelings and emotions. And excited because I felt like this curiosity would lead to something new. I knew this ‘something’ wouldn’t happen over night but that I was equipping myself with tools and knowledge I needed on this path to self-awareness.
I knew this time I was headed in the right direction I was curious and got a little extra push from some friends to dive into these feelings a little deeper. I started talking to someone who could help me make sense of this firestorm of raw emotions that was taking over my body.
Over the past few months, I’ve been able to bring to light new truths about myself and evaluate lessons learned. I can say for CERTAIN going through a ‘moment of impact’ like that has fundamentally changed who I am. And the truth is – I like this person a whole lot better!
I still work every day to figure out who this person is and how to maneuver the struggles that life throws at me on the path to new potential. Here are the outcomes or new truths of this curiosity:
- TRUST– I’ve come to learn that I can and must trust myself to make the right decision. That my gut and intuition is often right, and when I’m feeling discomfort, it is time to lean into these feelings even more. I’ve also learned that trust is sometimes risky, but it is necessary to believe in other peoples ability to show up. It is what they do with that trust that is a true testament to what place they will hold in your heart and your life.
- FORGIVENESS – Forgiveness is key. For growth, you have to forgive the hurt and also yourself. It is so easy to beat ourselves up over the paths we take in life but learning to forgive yourself after taking a wrong turn or two is where the lessons come from.
- SELF-LOVE – I’ve talked about this in my previous post How I Want to Feel; it is so important to be kind and gentle with yourself. In a world that is full of cynicism, criticism, comparison and judgment the love has to start from within. I don’t think I would have been able to begin to work through these emotions without it.
- OPENNESS – The only way to get to the other side of a struggle is to tear down the walls you build around your emotions and your heart. Let people in.
- TRUST THE JOURNEY – I’ve learned how important the journey is and that each thing that happens is setting the course for the next thing. There are no quick fixes. I think that is why Mark Manson’s article really hit home for me. I’m the type of person who, once there is a problem or decision to be made, wants it fixed and wants to move on. It’s the in-between part that is sticky and icky but what you have to go through to come out the other side. As much as we typically want to fast-forward through the icky bits, these are the bits that change us.
- STRUGGLE IS OK– I’ve learned that struggle will often signify change. Once you are ready to be curious about that struggle, it will lead you to all new places. I’ve also learned that there is no quick fix.
In the end, with struggle often comes enlightenment and growth, if you choose to lean in and be curious. I feel lighter, freer and excited to see what the next year has in store for me.
“A good life is not a life without problems. A good life is a life with good problems. And so, despite the turbulence of the rocky waves and twisting tides, I can sometimes stare into the heart of my confusion and the crossed strains of joy and sadness, and smile and be grateful that it’s all there.”