“Life Changing Events”

We all have experienced events in our lives which have affected us profoundly. When we talk about those events, we often use this phrase ”It totally changed my life”. Events such as living 1830027840_8335581a99abroad, going to Zimbabwe to work on an HIV/AIDS project, the experience of giving birth to babies, attending a self-development courses….all of which are my own life changing events. Life changing events are not always pleasant – I am certain that some people would say that losing a family member or a close friend affected them significantly. I know many people who have said that the 9/11 event changed their lives. For me personally, losing Miroku would qualify as one of such events. The other day, I came across a phrase; One of the simplest forms of prayer is to say “Life is a gift from God”. When I saw it, I thought, “yeah, don’t I know it” with a mixture of gratitude and sadness. A part of me is very happy that I do (know that statement to be true), but a part of me feels that I wish I would not be aware of that so keenly.

People speak of such events and say “It changed my life”. I have said that too, but to be more precise, the event did not change my life. The event changed me, and as a result, my life is now developing in a way that I had not previously expected. It changed how I see things, think and feel, and how I expect my life to be from that point on. Generally speaking, when something big happens to you, especially unexpectedly, it is normal to be in shock because that is not something you are familiar with – and you have to learn how to deal with the new situation. By the time you are done dealing with it and come out from the other side, you are not the same person you were prior to the event. In some cases it is very obvious, and in other cases it is more subtle – but because of the experience, you are not exactly the same as you were before, in one way or another. Sometimes, this simple fact of life troubles people witnessing the change. When I was an AFS student and was about to go back home after spending a year in Germany, one of the counselors told me that there would be a “re-entry shock” upon returning to Japan, because people back home expected me to be the same person, but I have changed so much and was so different from what I’d used to be. My family and friends needed to spend some time getting to know this new person.

I believe I am currently in that place again where people around me need to get to know the “new me”, because of what happened to Miroku. My friend Carol mentioned in her comment to this blog post describing my personal tragedy that “you will never be completely the same again”. I believe I fully understand what she meant by that. Sometimes I find it hard to accept that I am not my “usual self”, I have not been the person I used to be since that day and I realize now that I may not be the same again, ever. Will people still love me when I am not the same person who didn’t know this pain and sorrow I have been feeling? You might say, well, true friends will. I suppose this is why people take vows when they marry…. So people know that you are supposed to follow your partner’s life-long journey during which he or she might change significantly. You are supposed to be there when your partner is going through changes, regardless whoever they will become. I am very fortunate that my husband is right there with me as I go through this grieving process. He might not always know exactly what I am feeling, but he is there. For some time, I pondered whether I should keep writing about Miroku in this blog, wondering if people would still want to read about it when I continue further down this path of self-discovery. In the end, I came to realize that Miroku and the whole experience have become a big part of me now, whether I like it or not. The only thing I can do now is to keep going, knowing that life is fragile. It’s like I need to keep playing my music even though one of the strings is missing. So, here it is. I would love for you to get to know this new me. I believe this is also a part of the process of accepting myself for who I am.

2 comments on ““Life Changing Events”

  1. Hi Etsuko,
    I’m glad to see that you observe things in a positive light.
    I agree that all we can do is learn from all our encounters and keep going forward; and take what’s usable from it to make the lives of others and ourselves better.

    You had an experience in Zimbabwe that less than one percent of one percent would ever come close to experiencing. I wonder how that would have changed me; and what different kinds of decisions I’d be making today, or how my thought patterns would be changed; would I be a more enlightened individual. The experience may have sculpted you in many ways that you’re not even consciously aware of.

    I guess every experience sculpts us in some way.

    I think it’s useful to be aware of this sculpting. I don’t think many people observe how they themselves change over time. I’ve told myself that I believe I generally think the same way I did when I was 17. But would other’s agree with my assessment of me? If not then my observations must be skewed. It’s easy to notice other people change, but are we noticing ourselves changing?

    Btw, I’m still working on my 3 words for the new year, but now I’m thinking I’ll go for 3 power phrases. Maybe that’ll resonate more in my head.

    My first is: I’m going to start observing myself change.

  2. Etsuko – As always, your openness to sharing your process is wonderful! You know that I completely agree that you are a “new you” but you won’t stop having the elements of the “old you” either. Your true friends will continue to love you as you change through your whole life.

    Continuing prayers for healing and peace as you move through this part of your life’s journey!