People Reveal The Moment In Their Lives Where Everything Really Changed
Life has ebbs and flows. The roller coaster doesn't stop for any of us--but for some of us, it significantly changes. A significant life event can alter the course of our personal growth and maturity. We might not even know who we were at one point, before that thing. It defines us.
SaviorNegan, looking to gather more intel on what that event might be for people, asked:
Here were some of the answers.
A Hurricane Of Events
i'm from New Orleans, so everything is Before Katrina or After Katrina.
Having a femoral osteotomy. I went from being able to walk (albeit painfully), drive, do normal things. Had the surgery solely to improve my quality of life but it did the exact opposite. Something went wrong with my nerves and 15 months later, I'm left in constant agony. I can't walk, drive, do basic functions like bend my knee etc. It's the worst decision I've ever made.
Grief Shapes Us
Before mom died and after mom died. I was 18. It really shapes your life when you're forced to be on your own so young and face such an emotional roller coaster that never ends.
I came to China 12 years ago on holiday and am still here, so that's my B.C.
It would be perfect if I were from Denmark.
A New World
So this is super embarrassing as it was 10 years ago, but before and after my long time girlfriend in high school. This happened right around graduation - I really had no direction in life until she left me (rightly so) and I realized I need to put some effort into myself if I wanted to get anywhere. My thought process and actions seemed to do a complete 180 around that time.
I still don't know if this is a healthy thought process however, and am debating talking to a counselor about this.
My sister dying.
Before, my family were close and happy and talked to each other all the time.
20 years on, we're still a fractured mess.
Going through cancer, without question. I'm one of the lucky ones though - my cancer was the very treatable kind, I'm fine now, and about a thousand times more motivated than I was before cancer. Facing mortality really shifted my perspective.
Not my daughter's birth, but her diagnosis of a brain tumor two month later. There was no preparation or warning, just BAM baby cancer. She survived the surgeries and treatment and is doing well several years later, but I will never be the same.
The Things We Do For Others
An 80 year old customer that came in to my place of work. He has no idea his impact.
I was in an emotionally abusive relationship at the time. A bit of backstory: my now ex would get irate if he heard I talked with my male coworkers even about work/training. I wasn't allowed to see my friends and the one time I forced it he texted/called the whole time.
This older gentleman came in just beaming and high on life. He joked and chatted with me and was genuinely the happiest person I've ever encountered. Mid-conversation his wife pops her head in the office door and cheerily mentions that she ran in to her old friend and they were going to have coffee. Somehow he seemed even happier than he previously was and told his wife how marvellous it was that they bumped in to each other, to say hi to the friend, and to take their time.
At that moment I realized I'd never have that if something didn't change. It's been the hardest two years of my life but I got out of that relationship. I had to/chose to move 3000kms to get away from the stalking and the fear but its done and I'm slowly getting myself back. That man saved me from a terrible life and I can't even thank him.
Some New Ideas
A.D for me is After Divorce. Got married too young, divorced at 26, basically had to rebuild my life. Now very happy :-)
A Change In Me
I was going to be a fighter pilot in the US Navy. I was very disciplined, attended Civil Air Patrol, applied myself to school, competed at the national level in both swimming and martial arts, went for the whole congressional sponsorship to the military academies, the works. One day right before graduating high school, I was doing a "rowing" motion with those rubber workout bands, and it rolled off the toe of my shoe snapped me in the face. Turns out my retina came partially detached, it caused swelling and bleeding inside my eye, and permanent damage to my optic nerve. The injury disqualified me From any sort of flight program and my life's dream.
Now I'm an artist. Mostly video and cinematography.
I'm really happy with how my life turned out. I love doing what I do. I never would have met my beautiful wife, never would have got the amazing job I have, or met the amazing people in my life. For those who wanted to be a pilot but weren't able, I highly suggest getting into flying drones. It's a huge part of my life as a cinematographer and it's filled a part of my life that I thought I was going to miss out on.
My second marriage, but I honestly feel like I'm in my "3rd age" now. We've been married for almost 15 years, but it's only been the last 5 or so that I realized what I really have. I've always appreciated, loved and cared for her, but it's a whole new level now. I had always engaged in joking around about the ball and chain and was generally a lot more negative when speaking about my marriage around friends. The 3rd age began one day when a coworker told me how his marriage changed his life for the better and for some reason it was like a slap in the face. Now I tell anyone who'll listen how wonderful my wife is. I probably overdo it sometimes, but it has honestly made me appreciate her more and more. It's a simple change of mindset, but it has been profound for me.
The New Longing
The time I realized I should stop sitting silently in the corner and get a social life.
Before quitting hard drugs and after.
The Health Changement
Before weight loss. After weight loss.
The difference in quality of life after losing 100lb is almost indescribable.
Children Will Listen
Adopting my daughter.
I was a little older than most folks at 35. If you are looking for some kind of personal "Aha" moment, it didn't happen for a few months after we returned from China with our daughter. When we first got our daughter, it was more of a "Holy sh-t, what do I do now?" type of reaction. And that held for...well I'll let you know.
(*Pro-Tip on Parenting - It gets easier when you realize that no parents know what the f-ck they are doing. Do your best and try not to be a shitty person. What works in life works for parenting. Go figure.)
Ok so where was my watershed moment? I remember it vividly. I was driving and my daughter was in her carseat in the back. It had been a few months because I had finally gotten past the "I better check on her every few minutes because she might die on me and my wife will be super pissed" stage. I was in line to join a highway. My lane is single and due to the number of cars there is a long line that is moving semi slowly. Of course there is a way to move ahead of the line and make an illegal turn so you can bypass about 20 cars to still wait in line. Of course when I am getting onto the onramp, this is just what some a--hole decides to do. And of course he doesn't merge into the traffic, he just guns it and swerves onto the shoulder to jump in front of me. (Disclaimer - I may have a tiny bit of a problem with road rage.) This makes me see red and I gun it to catch up with the prick. So I do the same thing. I gun it and swerve around him onto the highway flipping him off. So here I am going 85mph down a highway on ramp swerving around a car because I am just raging. I look in my rearview mirror to see what a--hole is going to do and what do I see? My daughter just sitting there in her car seat all smiling and unaware just how much danger her father put her in because of his temper.
MOMENT OF CLARITY - I can still feel the same emotions that hit me at the time. Mostly a "what are you doing?" feeling. My daughter needed me to be better. She is totally dependent on me. I can't act like the same a--hole that I have been.
That's my AD moment. Don't get me wrong. I still rage in my car and in my head as my daughter can attest to. But I now limit myself to just cursing other drivers under my breath. I realized that my actions now directly affect another person who is entirely dependent on me to make good decisions. That was a heavy feeling. I'm glad it happened and that nothing worse did to make me realize I needed to change.
A Bad Weld
14 February 1998.
A Saturday. I was at work, voluntarily getting more overtime at the local shipyard.
The work day had just started, and I was working on my first project, fitting a small bulkhead to a deck plate. I was just an apprentice fitter, and was working with a 1st classer, with 15 years of experience.
He was using the crane to place several bulkheads, and bracing them off with a single piece of steel, and I was to come along behind as he did that, and fitting them to their correct places, and do partial welding to hold them in place, so the actual welders could come and "do it up right."
Except, I didn't check the brace's welds before starting to work, and it was a bad weld.
It broke, and 650 pounds of steel went from vertical, to horizontal. Right on top of me.
Broke my pelvis into 3 separate pieces, as well as a hairline fracture of my L2 vertebra in my back.
I never lost consciousness. I can remember -EVERYTHING- from the bulkhead shifting, while I was looking at the chalkline that it was supposed to be on, then shifting AGAIN, and then noticing it tilting towards me.
I remember instinctively putting my arms up to try to stop it. Yeah. That worked. NOT.
I remember just curling into a ball when I gave up trying to stop it.
I remember the pain of the impact just shooting through every inch of my body, like lightning.
I remember telling a coworker that if he tried to lift it off me, and dropped it again, that I was going to "beat the f-ck out of you when I get up! get the f-cking crane you idiot!"
I remember telling the paramedics that if they cut my brand new Wolverine work boots, that I was gonna kick their a--es.
Adrenaline is a hell of a thing.
I spent a month in the hospital, pretty much in the bed. I lost 50-ish pounds in that bed. I was a well-built 195 pound 6 foot tall man when I got hurt. I was a 140 pound weakling once I was able to move on my own again.
The orthopedic I was seeing recommended six months of bed rest.
I spent 2-3 weeks in a wheelchair, and then another week or so needing a walker to get around.
April 28th is the day I took my first steps WITHOUT a walker.
Six months bed rest, MY A--!
That was a life-changer. My life was never the same, since.
I've had other milestones since, married my wife in 2003 (in fact, 5 days from now is my anniversary!), my daughter was born in 2007.
But that accident on Valentine's Day of 1998? Nothing else in my life compares.
2014: An Odyssey
Hilariously, I was diagnosed with Cancer and got Divorced in the same year. The papers came through somewhere around my third or fourth round of chemo.
So, f-ck 2014, which marks both my B.C. and A.D. But also getting through that year is the best thing that's ever happened to me and I wouldn't change a thing. Man, I'm doing amazing now.
Near Life Experience
You know, my first thought was to say my time in Iraq was my before and after time but honestly it was the first time I did shrooms. I was 32 when I did them and I had been dealing with depression since I left the military in 2004. I was on a canoe camping trip with friends in the boundary waters and one night out of the blue, one of the guys says he brought us a little treat. I was terrified. Alcohol was my poison of choice. I declined to do them the first night he offered. While my friends went out on a rock in the middle of the night to enjoy the night with their "treat" I sat alone in my hammock tent having a panic attack at the thought of doing something stupid. Then, on the last night, my friend offered to do them again. I said no but he assured me that I was in a good place surrounded by friends.
I remember an immediate internal breakdown as soon as I put them down. But I sat there on a downed tree... around friends but terrified. About 45 minutes in I started to feel nauseous and my mind was saying, "well that's it a--hole..." Then I felt a vibration. It was like I was vibrating at one frequency and the world was at another frequency and we were trying to sync up.... like turning that old tracking knob on them old VCR's the fuzz went away and everything was clear. Buy clear I mean CLEAR... like the first time I watched a documentary in HD and I could see every snowflake clear. My anxiety was replaced by wonder. A wonder I haven't felt since I was a little kid and the proportions of the world weren't built for someone my size so everything was so odd and interesting. My friend came over and handed me glow sticks and that plastic sand that never dries out. I was amazed how new everything looked. Then I got tired. And I went to sleep. That's when mother mush really did her work. At that point in my life I had remained single for the better part of a decade because I thought I was damaged goods. I wasn't worth the hassle of a relationship. I was in one right after I got out of the military and I didn't want to do that to a person again. I was without hope. That night after I went to bed, I dreamed of every first kiss I had ever had. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach and the excitement of a first kiss. There is nothing quite like it. And I could play it over and over again... not quite like a time Machine but like I was a 4 dimensional being. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it. I was 32 years old. I gave up on a lot of things in life. Just a few months prior I had to be taken to a hospital in an ambulance due to a panic attack. But there I was, as giddy as a pig in sh-t dreaming about the thrill of a first kiss. And ya know what? That thrill never went away. I have been living life ever since. Free of fear. Free of anger. Free of anxiety. I feel "connected" with something bigger then me. I got married to an amazing girl last year. I'm finishing up my graduate degree in architecture in a couple of months.