The Other Side of Reason – Defining moments
Involved in a bus accident that took the lives of six people, David Gibson has been battling through PTSD for over three years. In an effort to better understand himself and to communicate with others, he turned to writing. His first book was The Other Side of Reason: A Journal on PTSD, available now via petrabooks.ca. This column continues that text.
I walk the trail at night after the world disappears. I adjust my sight and confront my fears.
All is calm in the cool well of the night sky.
The blue moon veil arrives high between the trees and lingers.
Silver threads of night entangle the sky in stars.
Time travels lightly. We sit near embers that pulse in the fire, like fireflies in a jar.
Breath and time dangle in suspension.
At the moment of connection, I live in the pause. It is lost, this rest, this sleep, for those of us who fly high
and plunge into the deep while we continue asking why.
Time seems so wide when I feel so small.
Yet, you are at my side, because you hear my silent call.
You, soft as a song singing in the night, cradle and smooth my every fall.
You hold me until the world is right and I no longer feel so small.
Don’t bother Dad – he had a defining moment today.
There are seminal moments, defining moments in life. And when they occur life is defined by them – what life was before that moment, what life was after that moment.
We often hear the phrase, “a moment is all it takes to change your life”, One brief event in time. I believe that one experiences innumerable such moments in their lives that change them, define them, either in small, unnoticeable ways, or in a big, life changing manner.
As seasons never cease so the moments of our lives never stop, from the beginning of life to the end of it. These moments are shaped by moments of discovery. Life is defined and redefined. No matter where we are in life we are faced with moments whereby we need to look beyond circumstances, explore endless possibilities, engage our inner talents and acquired skills to make these what they are meant to be ‘defining moments’. Whether from tragedy or opportunity, an insight or transition, we are defined in strength, wisdom, empathy and all that we are called to be.
Defining moments– two small little words that have the power of encompassing our entire being. I for one, would like to believe that our lives are made up of a series of enumerable defining moments; interwoven together with passing time. Each moment leaving an indelible trace.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about such moments in my own life. Partly because, as I am getting older I am facing the realization that I do not want to be defined by any one particular moment in my life especially the accident I was involved in.
Author Jill Pendley says "Who does not bear scars? Each of our journeys are unique. Our adversities leave upon us lasting marks. They show us all that we have overcome. Life; is a constant struggle, and by choosing not to give in, we rise above”.
Most people suffering from PTSD tend to be labeled as anxious, depressed, or even ‘mentally ill’. When people hear these words, and identify with them, the possibility of ever emerging from such a state feels very distant. Defining moments in a different way can help to reframe the ‘illness’ as a ‘mental injury’ and not necessarily as a permanent state of existence.
By recasting symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, depression and anxiety as a ‘negative past’ that people can replace with a ‘positive present’ and a ‘brighter future’, the traumatic moment can be situated within a person’s life as a learning and healing opportunity rather than as a disease of time.
This view may seem overly simplistic, but to trauma and PTSD sufferers (Vets, first responders, sexually abused, and survivors of natural disasters and fatal accidents), the idea of having a forward-leaning new framework, and a hope-filled narrative with which to understand and work on their issues, most often comes as an enormous relief and a welcome ray of light that permanently illuminates the darkness in their lives.
Until next time.