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  1. #1
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    Question What changed you?

    I am a writer (novelist,) which makes me a student of people and the dynamics that change them. A question for those who don't mind sharing:

    Is there a poignant moment in your life at which you can look back and say "that changed me forever?" If so, what was it and how did you change?
    Blogging about Barb horses at The Barb Wire and about the simple pleasures of less urban living at Nightlife. Saddle up and come along for the ride!

  2. #2
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    I have 2 moments. When is when a 15 year old student of mine came out to me. I knew before his parents knew. That is the moment that I look back on when people ask me why I want to teach.

    The second is when I won my scholarship to study for a year in Germany at the university of my choice. I was scared $hitless. I had never been there before, left behind family, BF (now an ex-BF), job, hockey team, etc, and knew no-one. I had a plane ticket, a spot at the university, and a hotel room for the first 3 nights. After the first three nights, I didn't know what I would do. I grew so much that year, and am such a different person now. It was the most amazing year-plus of my life.
    "Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. We need to have the strength and power of a football player, the stamina of a marathon runner and the concentration of a brain surgeon. But, we need to put all this together while moving at high speeds on a cold and slippery surface while 5 other guys use clubs to try and kill us. Oh, yeah, did I mention that this whole time we're standing on blades 1/8 of an inch thick. Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. Next question."

  3. #3
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    When I was 19 I decided to spend six months in Liberia, West Africa as an exchange student/missionary. It was incredible. It still blows my mind that most of us have two eyes, two ears, two arms, and two legs and live on the same planet and have such vastly different experiences and opportunities.

    Living under a military regime made me appreciate the stability of our political process, and the freedoms I have as an American. It also made me realize the grotesque abundance of EVERYTHING in this country; food, clothing, material possessions, etc. (at least for a portion of the country's population). It really gave me perspective on need vs. want, and what I could control and what I can't.

    Also, malaria was my first brush with death. One of my American friends on the trip died from it shortly after she returned to the states; at that time, US doctors didn't know that malaria had mutated and could affect the spleen, and not just the liver. That's a lot to handle when you're 19.

  4. #4
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    Oh, Tamawrite - WELCOME TO THE BOARDS!
    "Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. We need to have the strength and power of a football player, the stamina of a marathon runner and the concentration of a brain surgeon. But, we need to put all this together while moving at high speeds on a cold and slippery surface while 5 other guys use clubs to try and kill us. Oh, yeah, did I mention that this whole time we're standing on blades 1/8 of an inch thick. Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. Next question."

  5. #5
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    My moment of greatest change was 9 years ago, the day my husband was almost killed by a drunk driver. When I heard the words, "I regret to inform you," coming from the police officer's mouth, I knew in that instant that my life would forever be divided into and defined by before and after. To make a very long story short, DH suffered extensive internal, orthopedic, and brain injuries. He was in a coma, on life support, and required months of intensive therapy and many surgeries to return to any level of functionality.

    Before the accident, I was very driven and goal-oriented. In the days that I sat in the intensive care unit, praying for my husband's life, I realized that all the things I did and the goals I had meant nothing; life is too short and too uncertain to focus on things that have no lasting importance. I realized that, if I were to die suddenly, my children, my husband, and my parents just might not know exactly how much they meant to me and how much I loved them. At the time, I was in my second semester of college and hell-bent on being the best student in the universe. My house was spotless, I attended every single school function my children had, was extremely active in my church, participated in all kinds of community service, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I realized when my life came to a complete standstill as I cared for my husband round the clock for a year that the world went on without my hyper-involvement in everything. So, I cut back to the things that really matter to me and that strengthen important relationships.

    I changed in another important way. I just have to say as a disclaimer that I don't mean this in a "feel sorry for me way." It's just a fact of my life now. I've learned to live with sadness. I lost my best friend in that accident, as my husband came home a completely different person because of his brain injuries. In fact, the head injuries changed him to such an extent that he became a person that I would have never dated, to say the least have married. He came out of the coma resenting our daughters and vocally wishing they weren't around. They were 13 and 16. I think it's important to say this, because so many of us frantically reach out to anything and everything to find happiness when life's small (or large) annoyances strike. When the happiness that fills your soul is taken from you forever, you learn to dig deep inside yourself and reach out to God for contentment. I live with a sorrow that a bigger house or a new pair of shoes or a better paycheck just won't cure. Instead, I've learned to find joy in simpler, more basic things. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's the only way I can describe it. I've learned not to look back to the past with longing, but to face the future with courage, faith and hope.
    If this is the worst thing that happens all year, I think I can deal with it!

  6. #6
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    Tami. that is a lot to come through. i don't know you, but you must be an incredibly strong person.....
    My life has been full of life changing things. There were car accidents, intercontinental moves, divorces(my parents), extreme poverty (mine). But I think that I can share my life changing event with you guys. I barely know you, but I feel you are an understanding group. The day that made me the person I am today, taht I am most proud of, was when I was 13 years old and I stood in front of a crowded courtroom and detailed the abuse i suffered at the hands of my foster parents. And then, I was interviewed on the province wide news. I have never felt so powerful as I did that day. And I draw strength from that to this day

  7. #7
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    Tamawrite- welcome to the BB! There have been plenty of events in my life that stand out as important in some way or another (childbirth, physical feats, etc) but nothing has ever really been life changing in the way that others have described their "moments." This is definitely a subject for me to ponder...

    Tami, you know how every once in awhile you need to be reminded of how fortunate you are? You just did that for me. Sometimes I need a big wake up call to realize how much I take for granted, and what you wrote really made me think. It's clear that you are an amazingly stong woman. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. #8
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    I've read this thread 3 times already -- pondering, as Krista said. I have had several, at least, but wanted to say kudos to those who have already posted -- especially Tami and Kayaksoup.

  9. #9
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    The one most life changing experience for me was moving to another country. Now don't laugh, but it was only 4 hours, but it could have been across the world for all of that. (I lived in southeastern Michigan, immigrated to Canada and lived all over southwestern Ontario for 23 years.)

    In retrospect the thing that changed me the most was getting far enough away from my parents (even though I do love 'em) so that I could see damaging cycles of behavior from a distance and do something about them. Even today, I have shaken free of a lot of the crap that I was raised with. Now, I did say I loved my folks, and I do, but it was so good to be able to develop into adulthood with my own set of ideals and break the cycle of behaviors that were wrong. I could really get into this, but let's just say that my family is still pretty dysfunctional and even though I've returned to Michigan, I can't believe how different I am from all of them - esp. since I spend more time around them than ever before.


    Another big life changing event was divorcing my first H. That was life changing because I did it in Ontario, and one of the clauses on our separation agreement was that I could not leave the province of Ontario with our children. So I could not go to Michigan or any other province for that matter. I accepted that. But it basically meant, no family support. I was truly alone with my children (5 and 7).

    And welcome to the BB, Tamawrite!
    Springtime is my time of year!

  10. #10
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    I almost feel frivolous with the major experiences others have had, but...

    1. A big life changer was the day in January 2003 when a guy I had been friends with and had been around many times for over a year had a frustrating day and needed a hug. We were married 1 year and 2 weeks later....

    2. The other one was 10 months after that day, when I was finishing college, planning a move to a new city and planning a wedding that was happening 10 weeks later and I got a phone call that my father had had some sort of attack and was brain dead. I still struggle with many things from that: a wedding day that was strained and not the joyous occasion it should have been, a 30 lb weight gain that Ive been struggling with every since, guilt that Im so happy and my mother is still unhappy and depressed almost 10 years later, guilt that I live away from my family and dont see them very much and now I know how how fragile life is....
    ~Kim~

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  11. #11
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    This is a fasinating thread that I would have answered very, very differently about a year and a half ago.

    I've had several life changing experiences that I would have considered really huge: date raped at 16, death of my dad at 26, my marriage and subsequent divorce, and giving a baby up for adoption. All very impactful (is that a word) events.

    However, except for the death of my father, all the other events evolved out of MY poor decision making. Now, I'm not saying that any of those things were my fault, I'm just saying that had I been a little more self aware and a lot more honest with myself, I could have avoided a tremendous amount of pain.

    But the event (or events) that truly caused a shift in who I am started about 3 years ago. My poor decision led me down a path that I just can't seem to get off. I may have to deal with the repercussions of this for years to come. So, how has that changed me? 1. My sense of security is gone. I know for a fact how "safe" we really are and I am well aware of the limitations of both the police and the courts. 2. I have gone from trusting people immediately to trusting no one. This makes me sad because despite bad repercussions I'd rather be the first way - happier way to live. 3. My eyes are wide open to how the cause and effect theory works in my life. Everything that happens to me is more or less a result of something I've done. I'm scared to make a decision know in case it's the wrong one.

    If you see yourself anywhere in my little rant GET OUT NOW. Women are murdered by boyfriends and spouses everyday and IF you don't think it can happen to you then you are at risk.

    The person in my situation is sitting in prison right now because of the things he's done to me. I've sat on the fence for months now about whether I am going to stay and deal with this - he will get out eventually - or move away. I am very close to deciding to stay. This will be a decision based on all the FACTS, not on how I wish things could be.

    In a way this is not a sad story (although I certainly indulge in poor me days). If I hadn't had this experience perhaps the next person would have killed me. Maybe this has saved me. It has certainly woke me up. I just really hope that in time I will come to appreciate the growth that has come from this particular crisis and I have with the rest of them.

    This was too long, too ranting and slightly preachy but all in all catharic (is there a spell check on this thing). What was the question?

    T - loves to hear herself talk
    "I'm hungry mother."

    "Oh Rolly, you're always hungry."

    ~101 Dalmations~

  12. #12
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    I'm still thinking on my answer to this question but really I just want to send HUGS ((((( )))) to all of you! You are all strong, beautiful women and your stories are truly opening my eyes and others I'm sure. Stay strong!
    "...having dogs forces us to keep living in places that are right for us. And I think of all the things I might have given up had my dogs not shown me what was important in my life: fresh air, a garden, an eleven-thousand foot mountain in my backyard." - Pam Houston "The Bad Dogs of Park City"

    _________________________________________

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  13. #13
    Sending (((hugs))) to all too. And not to change the topic too much, but sammeybella, please stay safe. A friend of a friend was in a very bad situation recently. She told her husband she was leaving and wanted a divorce. He threatened her with a gun, but she talked him down, and was able to leave. He killed himself that weekend, and left a note that he should have killed her while he had the chance. Very sad. Take care.

  14. #14
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    Like Kim, I feel pretty frivolous in saying this, especially because so many of you have been through such heartbreaking ordeals. Hugs to all of you - I greatly admire everyone's strength.

    What changed me, quite simply, is DBF. I fell in love with him when I first met him 5 years ago - the summer after I met him, I said to my best friend, "I'm going to marry this guy." And this was before we ever kissed, before I ever knew he had feelings for me too.

    But I was having a rough time in my life. I was involved in a verbally abusive on-again, off-again relationship with a guy from school. Everyone but me could see how badly he treated me - cheating on me, breaking up with me during drunken fights - and I just kept taking him back. I was drinking a lot (well, I was in college), fighting with my parents, not putting my best effort into my school work - looking back now, I can see I was completely miserable. This went on for about 2 years.

    The next summer, when I first saw DBF again after a year apart at school, all those feelings came rushing back - but it still took us until the end of the summer to finally make something happen. But we left for school with things uncertain, until he called me the night before classes started to tell me he missed me and wanted to come home. The next day, he drove home and completed the transfer to my school. And that certainly made it official.

    Long story short, I am a much happier person with him in my life. Everyone notices it - especially my parents, who thankfully did not disown me after the torture I put them through. And apparently his parents see that I have changed him for the better too. Now we're both looking forward to having my prediction to my best friend come true
    Kristin

    Even a fish wouldn't get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut.

  15. #15
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    slknight,

    Your concern is very sweet. Please know that I am very aware of the magnitude of my situation. However, my decision was between this - leave and face him going to everyone I know (quite possibly in a threatening and dangerous manner) or stay and plan for his eventual release.

    I am leaning towards staying for two main reasons:

    1. I love my family and friends and will not knowingly endanger him

    and

    2. I will never have peace if I allow fear to rule my life

    So I am:

    1. Moving within the general area. Installing an alarm system on both house and car. Renovating house to anticipate someone trying to break in. Installing an instant response system (which I've had in the past).

    2. Working in conjuction with the local police department (who are very aware of my situation) and victim services in order to quicken response time and increase awareness of the individual within the community. You'd be surprised at how the police department takes a personal interest in your case when they see that you are not only very serious about going ahead with charges but are doing absolutely nothing to encourage the situation.

    3. Taking boxing and self defense in order to escape possible harm. I realize that a situation could evolve where none of the above can help me but that is a point at which I have no control and can only put my faith in God.

    This individual gets a certain perverse pleasure in my fear and that is the part that I am determined to eradicate. When he is released I will have anticipated as many possibilities as I can and will face the situation with the confidence that I have, for the first time, made the very best decisions and come what may have made myself a stonger person. That in itself may make this person bored of harassing me and maybe he'll go bother someone else (not that I would wish that on anyone).

    Again, another long rant. However, I find that I empower myself sometimes by taking it out. I generally learn something new.

    T - shutting up and reading other people's posts now
    "I'm hungry mother."

    "Oh Rolly, you're always hungry."

    ~101 Dalmations~

  16. #16
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    Wow...what a fascinating question.

    1. Being in a hotel fire when I was a junior in high school. I was away from home (and my parents) with my voice teacher partaking in a voice competition in Bethlehem PA. There was faulty wiring and the alarms never went off. Being stuck in a room for an hour waiting for the firemen to reach your window to get you down (it was on our floor). 10 people died (all on our floor). That whole experience/ordeal definitely changed me and made me feel that 1)I'm here for a reason and 2)life is precious

    2. Meeting DH - after having a very rough relationship with mom and dealing with two crazy dads (one schizophrenic and one alcoholic), it was lifechanging to meet someone who loved and loves me for me...plain and simple, crazy and neurotic, strong and yet fragile, flighty and fun me


    3. The World Trade Center coming down and DH and I being out of the city with no way to connect to friends and loved ones for a couple of days and feeling trapped where we were without the ability to get home. I honestly would have lost it if DH and I weren't together. Again a life is precious change.

    4. Last but not least, losing weight. Probably the biggest life changer and easily the single most difficult and important thing I've ever done in my life. There is absolutely no way to describe the difference between being supersized and morbidly obese to being moderately healthy with a bit of weight to lose. Differences in me and differences in the way people treat me. Some differences are painful and bittersweet, and some differences joyous and filled with elation. I feel alive..it's as simple and as complicated as that.

    Jeanne
    "Comfy? I'm chained in a bathtub drinkin' pig's blood from a novelty mug. Doesn't rank huge in the Zagut's Guide."

    - Spike, "Something Blue"


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  17. #17
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    Piping up to say just 2 more things, just 2 I swear...

    one. I like this thread because it proves an "Oprah" show that everyone has a story. I often look at people moving about and wonder what is going on in their lives that pains them that no one else will ever know about.

    two. I am glad that Jeanne posted because it made me think of something. I read something on her website that really spoke to me. She had been trying to accept herself the way she was and be happy at whatever weight she might be. However, she was miserable and her husband noted that she seemed happier when she was trying to lose weight. This seemed to be an eye opener for her and from my perspective started her down the path she's on now of successful weight lose. Although I'm in a different situation I realized that I am happier when I as doing "something" about my situation instead of running away from it. Avoidence is not empowering for me and I become an unhappy person. (I hope I haven't made a mess of the story you were telling on your website Jeanne, I just wanted you to know that I learned something valuable from your experience).

    That was just 2 right?

    T
    "I'm hungry mother."

    "Oh Rolly, you're always hungry."

    ~101 Dalmations~

  18. #18
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    T - I think it was 1)him telling me he loved me as long as I loved me (at whatever weight) and 2)telling me i was happier trying. What was hurting him so much was seeing me so unhappy about the way I looked, the way I felt, physically and mentally. My spirit/energy was a mess because here I was all vivacious and bubbly on the outside and I was broken on the inside. It hurt him that I didn't see what he saw in me. It *is* empowering. Empowering is totally the word for what has changed in me through the weight loss. Even the pain of losing friends, realizing I was not treated fairly, etc etc has empowered me and made me see my place in the world in an entirely different way.

    I applaud you for thinking through your situation and making a decision...a conscious effort to do something. So many people fear taking that responsibility without even realizing that once that choice is made, if it doesn't work, choose again!

    ((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))

    JeAnne
    "Comfy? I'm chained in a bathtub drinkin' pig's blood from a novelty mug. Doesn't rank huge in the Zagut's Guide."

    - Spike, "Something Blue"


    *****************
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  19. #19
    WOW! These stories have made me realize how strong the human spirit is. I would have to say that my moment of change also came when I was down and out but learned how strong I am.

    I spent 6 months traveling with my boyfriend at the time when I was 24 years old. We went to the middle east, asia, and all over Europe. I was crazy in love with this guy, and I do mean crazy. I would have done just about anything for this man. Anyway, during the trip it became painfully obvious that he wasn't nearly as taken with me as I was with him.

    When we returned to the states he promptly began cheating on me, even though we were living together. He applied to graduate school back East(we were in Texas at that time) but never even mentioned it to me. Then I found out I was pregnant (it was not at all planned), and he announced that he was moving to NYC with another woman.

    Needless to say, I was crushed. My life, as I knew it, was just over. So I kinda fell apart. I spent months a complete wreck, but somehow managed to get through it. Everything in my life changed. I completely changed jobs, lifestyles, and who I was. And it was that drastic change that led me to where I am now. I LOVE my life as it is now, and I love who I am becoming. While I wouldn't wish the pain I went through on anyone, I wouldn't have done anything differently.

  20. #20
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    I am awed by what I have read here. You are all an amazing group of people.

    Two life-changing experiences for me:
    1) The semester I spent studying abroad, in Ireland. Much of what Bethany said holds true for me as well - it changed me forever. I became SO much less self-absorbed as I learned about the different perspectives people may have based on their background, their history. I learned to listen to people. I also learned that there are common threads that bind us all together, no matter what our background.
    2) I wish I could say that my wedding day changed me. But what really changed me was a day about 9 months later when I realized the gravity of the commitment I had made, that I had truly promised myself to one person for the rest of my life. That was the day I started to learn what marriage was all about.
    We figured there was too much happiness here for just the two of us, so we figured the next logical step was to have us a critter.

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  21. #21
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    Such strong and resilient women!

    The timing of this thread is interesting. When I left Liberia in 1989, I left under the protection of the US Embassy because of the threat of civil war. I had an armed guard with me at all times and another one guarded my luggage to prevent sabotage. Earlier that month, I'd had a machine gun held to my head when going through a military checkpoint.

    Sure enough, shortly after the last of my group (US students) got out, the coup started. The church where I worshiped in the capitol city (Monrovia) was the site of a massacre one Sunday morning and all attendees were killed. I taught elementary school while I was there; my former students must be presumed dead. Eventually all US personnel - Peace Corps, embassy staff, NGO volunteers - were evacuated courtesy of the US Marines.

    And now Liberia is in the midst of another civil war, and there are discussions about sending in US troops (again). It has been all over the news and I wonder if anyone I knew survived the last war and is suffering this time. It just breaks my heart.

    Interestingly, when I left Liberia the only airline flying into that country was KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines), which brought me to Amsterdam. Having no idea if/when I'd ever get to return to Europe, I stayed a few days in a Christian youth hostel and celebrated the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day. Apparently there was a handsome 18-year-old American guy staying in that youth hostel, too, but I didn't meet him. Then, in 1991, I moved to Atlanta and lived near Emory University. I came to find out later that the same young man lived 8 houses away from me on the same street; perhaps we met when I walked my friend's dog and he walked his dog, Reggie, but perhaps not.

    It turns out the man's name was Todd, and we finally met in church three years ago. We were married two months ago (with Reggie in attendance). You just never know who will cross your path, and how many times!

  22. #22
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    Smile

    Hi guys -- thanks for all the welcomes! You've made this one of the friendliest BB's I've ever visited. =)

    Your stories are at once heartbreaking and awesome. sammeybella, KristaMB, Kim, Jeanne, everyone...

    It's funny what you said, M4Star, about how our stories exemplify the strentgh of the human spirit. They (the ubiquitous "they!") say every writer has a theme -- a driving force, if you will -- that hovers in the background of all their stories. If I have such a theme, it's what you said: The human spirit is strong! We can survive amazing things and be better people for them.

    My own life-changing experiences aren't as powerful as some of yours, but I guess they changed me nearly as much in their own way. The first was my marriage to the wrong guy -- he was a good friend but we were young and he didn't really want to be married. Instead, he wanted me to "be there" when he was ready. The result? He always wanted someone else, didn't find me attractive enough, and I wound up emotionally driven into the dust. We divorced last year, and while I never thought divorce would "happen" to me, I can't describe the profound relief I still feel. Thank God we didn't have any kids to hurt with our poor choices. I just remarried a completely different man--one who does the little things (makes my coffee, starts my car for me) and the big things (loves me no matter what I do or look like or say or where I've been.) I didn't know there were people like him, who believe so much in a person's intrinsic value. I'm still getting used to it! I spend rather a lot of time reflecting on how I've changed. I went from self-confident to emotionally squashed to jubilently ME again. =)

    Of course, the past will always hurt...but would life be so rich if it didn't? Blessings to all.
    Blogging about Barb horses at The Barb Wire and about the simple pleasures of less urban living at Nightlife. Saddle up and come along for the ride!

  23. #23
    what changed my life was when i learned to love myself completely. this happened somewhere between high school and college right after my break up with my high school sweetheart.

    i learned who i was as a person, and i was no longer afraid to be that person. i became braver and i became the person that beth really is, not the person that others wanted me to be.

    then i learned that in order to love others, i had to learn to love myself first, and then everything would fall into place.

    from that moment on, i guess you could say, that i became a different person. i became me.

  24. #24
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    Originally posted by RebeccaT
    ITwo life-changing experiences for me:
    1) The semester I spent studying abroad, in Ireland. Much of what Bethany said holds true for me as well - it changed me forever. I became SO much less self-absorbed as I learned about the different perspectives people may have based on their background, their history. I learned to listen to people. I also learned that there are common threads that bind us all together, no matter what our background.
    Rebecca - I couldn't agree more. I also learned that things aren't necessarily better or worse here or there, just different.
    "Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. We need to have the strength and power of a football player, the stamina of a marathon runner and the concentration of a brain surgeon. But, we need to put all this together while moving at high speeds on a cold and slippery surface while 5 other guys use clubs to try and kill us. Oh, yeah, did I mention that this whole time we're standing on blades 1/8 of an inch thick. Is ice hockey hard? I don't know, you tell me. Next question."

  25. #25
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    [i]When the happiness that fills your soul is taken from you forever, you learn to dig deep inside yourself and reach out to God for contentment. I live with a sorrow that a bigger house or a new pair of shoes or a better paycheck just won't cure. Instead, I've learned to find joy in simpler, more basic things. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's the only way I can describe it. I've learned not to look back to the past with longing, but to face the future with courage, faith and hope. [/B]
    Tami, I am sending a lot of hugs to you all.
    Leisa

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Surprise, Arizona
    Posts
    727
    When I first started to answer this thread I was going to say that my kidney transplant was the thing that changed me the most. The transplant came after growing up with kidney disease and having spent a lot of time in the hospital due to surgeries. But after thinking for a few minutes I've changed my mind. Yes that was a big event in my life, and it did change my life but something that happened last summer has changed my way of thinking about myself and my life. Last summer, I had just moved back from Iowa, was starting a new job, living in an apt without any furniture (another story), and missed all the signs of severe dehydration. I ended up in ICU because my kidney and other organs were shutting down. (To tell all of you how out of it I was-it didn't even occur to me to call 911 and get to a hospital-I called a cab and waited until the bank was open because I needed to get money for something.) It was the closest I've ever come to death.

    What did it teach me? Taught me to look out even more for myself because I'm the one that has to. (another story) To learn to love myself for who I am and not what I think others think I should be.
    To learn to say STOP when I need to and say time out. Now if I need to not sign up on yet one more committee I just say no (although I do have to continue to work on this!) And if I need to take one weekend day just to do nothing then that's what I do. I want this transplant to last another 16 years at least!

    Lisa

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    4,122
    What changed my life initially was my divorce. Up until that point, I was a pretty self-absorbed yuppie. I lived my life by the things or the accomplishments I had acquired -- graduated at 22, married at 24, house at 25, passed the bar at 26, blah, blah, blah. Then 3 weeks after my son was born (child number 2) and 2 months after my ex and I had bought a home that was truly beyond our means, he told me he didn't want to be married. Divorced at 29 was not part of my above plan, yet it happened. I spent the next 3 years in a fog of trying to be everything to everyone as I thought my divorce meant that I was a failure. What I didn't know at the time, but I can clearly see now, was that God was bringing people and events into my life to where I would finally turn to Him for my security. That happened in January 1995. My life has changed dramatically since that time. Not in terms of finances, health, marriage or anything, but in the sense of my own personal worth. I still struggle with life on a daily basis, but have true joy. I read somewhere that joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God's peace in the midst of it. I am thankful that my life is generally filled with peace.

    I have to say that I am amazed at the strength and courage that comes through the stories you all have shared. I wish you all peace as well. Laura

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Glendale, AZ
    Posts
    744
    I just want to pop in here again and say thanks to all of you who have PM'ed and posted words of caring and encouragement here--for all of us who shared our stories. I've stayed away from this thread since I posted on it, because it suddenly feels very weird for you all to know this part of me. I think I feel that way because I never want to live as a victim. I just don't know any other way to share what I did without just putting it out there. It's funny that I've never felt awkward sharing my kitchen disasters and moments of outright stupidity, and of course, I can never keep my sarcastic sense of humor reined it--even here, but this was hard to reveal to people who only know me outside of it.

    I also want to applaud all of you who shared, and those who (for whatever reason) have lived your story, but chosen not to reveal it here. This thread certainly shows the power and strength of the women who have gathered here, and that life is worth living no matter what difficulties arise along the way. All of us, in our own ways, are survivors. I hope all of you have grown and gained insight through your own life-changing events. If you haven't yet--you will.
    If this is the worst thing that happens all year, I think I can deal with it!

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    St Louis
    Posts
    21
    Before I begin, I want to echo the fact that i am awed by all the strong women who have shared their experiences thus far on this thread. I am amazed that you all can survive your individual situation with such strength and grace.
    As for my response, I am fortunate enough to have never been through anything of such magnitude. Unfortunately people who are extremely close to me have not been so lucky. And it is their experiences, rather than my own, that have been the most life changing for me, as odd as that might sound.
    First, when my cousin and I were both 15, he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer. I watched him struggle with such dignity and with more strength than I could have ever possessed for over two years. At the age of 18, his strength gave out, and he passed away the day before we would both have started college. While I did not go through the experience myself, his fight and my aunt and uncle's strength and support of each other through the entire time taught me so much about the power of family and the power of the human spirit. It made me realize about the fragility of life, and about learning to appreciate life and the people who mean so much to me.
    Secondly, during college, two very close friends survived very brutal attacks and rapes. Both occurred at different times, but both of my friends were forced to deal with painful physical and emotional scars for years afterwards. Again, although I did not go through the situation directly, I could very much relate to their pain, and I knew that very easily the same thing could have happened to me. I became much more aware of situations that I put myself in, and my own safety. I suddenly realized that in an instant of poor judgement or simply fate, my life could be changed forever.
    Both of these experiences, albeit not my own, have changed me forever. I don't like to admit it, but I know that for much of my life before these happened, I was very spoiled. I was used to having everything and never really appreciated anything because it was just 'expected'. I grew up in a very sheltered way, and never learned to fully appreciate how quickly that everything can disappear or how quickly a situation could take it all away. Having been there with and for my family through my cousin's illness and having helped both of my friends through their experience, I have learned to appreciate my family, my friends, my health, my life, my happiness.

    Again, my heart goes out to everyone who has shared.

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    1,108
    My grandmother's death on Valentine's Day of 2001 changed my whole family. It separated my mother from my aunt (mother's sister) and her husband. I realized how short life is when I was only 18. After watching the horrible pain and coughing and chronic discomfort my grandmother was having, I knew it was better for her to be in heaven. My mother and I have not since had any close friend or family member we can trust. There is no one in our lives to talk to every day, or visit with whenever we want. The two of us have really had to turn to each other and to God.

    I was also changed when I developed irritable bowel syndrome. I felt and heard things going on in my abdomen that I had never before felt or heard. I soon began to bloat up like a balloon more and more often until I remained bloated constantly. It came after some very poor eating choices when I was battling some severe depression before high school. Yet now, six years later, long after I have improved my diet and nutrition, the IBS remains as constant and uncomfortable as ever. I have to watch everything I eat, avoiding certain foods I would otherwise enjoy. I have to allow several hours of each day just to go to the bathroom so that I can stand the discomfort. It has prompted me to take better care of my health in an effort to avoid any worsening of symptoms or development of other more painful problems. Watching my grandmother die and living with IBS has made me realize that death can sometimes be better than living in chronic discomfort or pain.

    Most life-changing of all, however, was spending all four of my high school years at a Christian school. I realized how many things I had to be thankful for; not only basic needs but extra things I could do without. I discovered all I ever really need is God, and I began to understand exactly how we find salvation in Jesus Christ. I gained much insight by studying extensively the New Testament of the Bible. The school was not perfect. It was small (about 10 total high school students), and they had some big problems with administration and staff. However, I would never regret or take back the valuable things I've learned there.

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