Several years ago (it seems like a lifetime ago) I was talking to a friend who I admire very much and she made a comment that struck me straight to my core. She said, “when I grow up, I want to be Treisha Peterson”. First I was dumbfounded because I couldn’t see what I had that she could possibly think was better than what she already possessed. Second, at the time, I didn’t even want to be Treisha Peterson. The thought that somehow I had fooled people into admiring who I was seemed frightening and incredibly intimidating. With this sweet friends comment stored in my back pocket, I determined to live my life in a more authentic way so that the first person who wanted to be like me would be ME!
I can look back and identify THREE very distinct and clear defining moments. These are events that shaped who I am, for better and for worse and in some way altered the course of my life. I hadn’t thought of this before now, but I suppose that each one of these has built upon the other and none of these events could have impacted my life in quite the sane way on its own.
The first was the passing of my mom when I was eleven years old. I was young enough that her death at the age of 27 did not register as traumatic as it seems now. My family tree gets a little harried here, but for ease of explanation, I will say that parent figures came into and out of my life frequently, so with her passing, there were no adults in my life that stored the memories of my early childhood. It is surprising to know just how much identity we gain from knowing our past- the stories, pictures, and connection to a ‘tribe’ are critical to a healthy development. This loss of connection to my past has probably been more life-defining than the loss of my mom.
As a result, I have come to understand that I am very guarded with relationships, the more intimate the potential, the more guarded I get from the very onset. I am incredibly passionate about time spent together as a family and probably equally as passionate about opportunities to establish traditions and customs within our home. I crave close knit connections, but will exercise too much caution before accepting someone new into my inner circle.
The second defining moment of my life occurred shortly after I got married. I had started getting sick during our engagement and eventually I was diagnosed with lupus. Within six months of my diagnosis…
- I watched a movie where the supporting character died from lupus,
- I read a book written from the perspective of women with chronic diseases about the struggles they faced being moms and the fears they had for their children’s future and,
- 2 high profile celebrities went public with their stories of how lupus had completely altered and changed the course of their lives!
I determined that absolutely, positively, NO WAY, NO HOW was lupus going to define me or my family! We didn’t talk about it, I refused to let my husband tell his family how I was doing or feeling and I rarely mentioned it to my own family. There are goods and bads to this approach, but it was a form of denial that I suppose I needed that empowered me to take charge early on. I became the owner of my health and wellness, which has truly driven most of my adult life, and learned the incredible meaning of mindset strengthening!
My third defining moment was not too long ago but spans a five year period and is really a montage of events rather than one singular moment. After building the home of our dreams, (the one where kids were supposed to marry and bring grand-babies home to visit) my husband and I felt strongly we were supposed to leave. We followed this inspiration, ended up losing a TON of money and bought a home in another state that, in terms of quality and appearance, did not compare to the home we left. However, the experiences we had and the relationships we formed were priceless!
After only a few short years, we knew our time was up and we would be moving again. This time, our move brought us to the biggest struggles our family has ever known. Lots and lots of tears were shed and tantrums were thrown over this move. I realized just how much value I had given to being rooted to a ‘home’. I started to suspect that I had mis-defined what ‘home’ is and had misinterpreted the meaning of security. As a result, I turned inward for a relationship with myself and worked on growth and healing in areas I hadn’t previously realized were weak.
From these three events, and a myriad of other supporting life events, I have come to understand some very key parts of who I am. More importantly, I have learned how to identify my weaknesses that they might become my strengths AND I have learned that it is THIS MOMENT that matters most! From my early years, I placed a very high value on security and feeling rooted to home and family. Both are still important, but I now have a better understanding that ‘security’ comes from being ‘rooted’ within and not from any one thing or person in our lives.
What are your defining moments? Chances are you can learn a few things from understanding what your defining moments are and what you gathered from them.
You will understand your weaknesses, you will understand where and why you guard yourself, and hopefully you will gain some insight into how to empower yourself to continue this journey of life.
Pay attention to those things that shut you down, close you up, or shake your foundation. These are messages from your inner self asking for a little nurturing and growth.