There is always a Turning Point — The most amazing things can happen when you open yourself up to others
“Hey, hey you! What do you think? Let me ask you? Do you think it is reasonable for someone to take anti-anxiety meds when you can’t even function and you were molested when you were younger?” A young man in his 20’s is in my face as I turn the corner from my daily walk towards home. I pull my headphones from my ears.
I had seen the intensity in his eyes, and prior to him asking, I could overhear him speaking to another older gentlemen with a wide-brim hat who seemed to be some sort of mentor, may be a sponsor. “Let’s just leave strangers out of this, ok?” The man by his side pleads with this threatening young kid; a spoiled millennial one might assume.
As I approached them, through my music, I had heard the young man shouting with potency and pain, “Ohh really! Oh really! You know what, let me ask her!” He was sort of shrieking at the man, he held a vaporizer in his right hand behind his back and his hair was kinked and messy. He could have looked homeless but definitely strung out on something but mostly strung out in pain.
“Hey, hey you! What do you think? Let me ask you? Do you think it is reasonable for someone to take anti-anxiety meds when you can’t even function and you were molested when you were younger?”
I gave myself a moment; this was a lot to digest but I knew this was a turning point in some moment, this was a feeling deep in my gut, to listen to this kid, the type of feeling that won’t let your soul rest.
As a 6th grade teacher, it’s my job to reinforce the concept of a turning point to my students in language arts. I teach them to recognize the moment in which the protagonist has a chance or an opportunity to grasp something they lost or are learning simultaneously. Yet, we rarely make the connection to our real lives and the turning points that often arise when we least expect them. Conceivably, this inflection point of our life is one to challenge our long held beliefs that no longer serve us. Possibly, it is simply to evoke in us the question, “What is it like to be you?” of a stranger, a friend or even a family member; to no longer see ourselves as anything but separate from others.
So I took my time. His eyes were focused on mine. They were really stunning eyes. They held a lot of hurt and the color of hazel amplified his question. He wanted me to blow him off, that’s what he wanted. He had probably been blown off his entire life. He wanted to be validated that he was no good and a bit frightening and like many of us, he would have expected me to walk away and feel a little bad but mostly relieved that person, that was not me.
But I didn’t walk away. I recognized myself in him. I saw his suffering and his struggle to cope, to live after much loss of innocence.
After about 15 seconds holding his gaze, I spoke as kindly and as gently as I could, “I don’t know the answer to that question because I don’t know what that feels like. But it sounds awful and very hurtful. I am really really sorry you have to deal with that and feel so much pain. That must be so hard.”
His defenses came down, and if he wasn’t holding back, he looked as though he could have cried right there. I wanted to cry too.
We just stared at each other for a bit, then slowly his shoulders relaxed, we both forgot about the man standing next to him.
He nodded. “It does suck.”
“I know,” I replied.
Another long moment passed, “Thank you.” he shyly gave me. The man next to him also thanked me. I smiled to show I was genuine in my compassion.
I began to turn and walk away, I was about 15 feet in front of them when something pulled me to tell him more and give him more of my story. What did I have to lose, I thought.
My walk was with purpose and I was not really in control of my body. I stood right in front of them both.
“You know, I feel like I need to tell you this one more thing. You see, in August of this past year, I lost my twin sons. They both died.” He looked at me with the most empathetic heart I have seen. He gets it.
“I held them both for hours after I delivered them. I have felt the depths of despair. I have felt like I didn’t want to live. It sucks to feel the pain we feel, but you know what, I got myself through it. I needed lots of help and support and so do you. I meditate every day to calm my mind and sit with my emotions. I was on anti-anxiety meds and trust me they only help for so long. Wine and alcohol, it does no good for too long. I drank a bottle a night for a bit. Didn’t help. I had to do it, for me and my boys and for you. I had to get better. We have to do it for ourselves. You are a good person. You can heal, but no one can do it for you. Ask for help and trust that you have everything inside of you that you need. Ok?”
He’s a stranger who needs a bath, but I gave him a hug, “Ok?” I say again with intensity. I looked at him as if he were my own son that needed comfort and reassurance and love. He was just a boy who was really hurt.
“Ok.” he slowly confirms and nods, now the empathy is held tightly in his body.
I turn to walk away, “Thank you,” he says behind me, but I don’t need it, I should be thanking him. He allowed me to be vulnerable and connect and heal myself just that much more. I am so appreciative for moments like these. I was so happy to have the strength to stay and be in the present with him. We both needed it.
These are images of my twins, myself and my incredible husband after I delivered our sons stillborn. These are not images that I enjoy looking at, but like any mother, I cherish them because they are all I have of my boys.
It will be one year this coming August since they passed away. My twin, Jude, passed away in June of last year after emergency surgery in an attempt to save them both from TTTS. Jude was underdeveloped but my husband and I both held them dearly. My second twin, Quinton, passed a month later from complications.
Today, I am exactly 30 weeks pregnant with my 4th son and I am so grateful for all life has given me. I finally feel as though I can share these images and despite the anguish in my face, there is so much more than that; true unconditional love- love without conditions and parameters, it is the same love I could share with a complete stranger. That is the love I hold in my heart for all my boys and that they gave me to pass on wherever I can so that their legacy lives on.