An object in motion stays in motion, remember that from science class? An object in motion headed in one direction stays headed in that direction, until sideswiped by a bulldozer.
I have read that trauma can cause developmental stages to stop when trauma happens in life. It can cause someone to feel stuck. Unfortunately, most of us pay little attention to things we have no experience with. At least until you are staring it in the face.
I’ve always been a hands on kind of learner, so it makes sense that I just now understand the concept. I should have know what my learning style when I was in private pilot school and I could fly a plane but couldn’t tell you why it could fly. I would listen to the instructor and it sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I tried as hard as I could but the text was written like a dictionary and it might as well have been in Spanish. I also have determined that same learning process in my brain makes it difficult for me to learn a second language. Oh, well there’s always sign language.
I would feel the soft turns, dives and climbs, at the right moments. I can close my eyes and feel it now. I knew just when to give it gas and when to pull back. At first, I had joined the military to be a pilot but I soon learned my eye sight wasn’t good enough, so I became a radio operator for a helicopter ambulance unit instead. Still determined to be a pilot, I went to Bowling Green State University, where I was a Junior almost upon entry, all my high school credits adding up to a substantial amount of credits for college.
While taking my Private Pilot exam and after 20K into the profession at BGSU, I knew I would not become a pilot for my profession. I left school and walked back into the recruiter’s office and asked what can my test scores get me? I had seen the Army nurses in action during Desert Storm, in the helicopter ambulance unit, and they had a future, they seemed well-regarded. The recruiter told me he could send me to surgical tech school. Sold. I would have a career in and out of the military he promised. I left BGSU just three terms short of graduation. Soon I was married with four girls and advancing my career was always in my mind, but the self doubts of pilot school crept in. Pop up ads of finishing your degree with night school and on-line classes kept calling my name. I decided to humor the advisor across the country that kept calling and I let him evaluate my credits. He informed me I was nearly done with my degree and I had a large majority of classes in Psychology and Business. I convinced my husband to let me spend the year finishing my B.A. in Psychology and I breezed through it.
I sat alone one night outside in the hot tub after finishing the degree, still working as a surgical tech/assistant, thinking about where i was headed. It was my quiet place where I could slip outside and contemplate the day while the kids were in bed. Of course they would yell at me out the window, but it was peaceful for a few minutes before ending my night and starting the grind all over again. I asked aloud what do I do now? I heard a voice, not my own, say “go to nursing school.” I knew it wasn’t my own thought because I had no desire at that time to go. I had told my husband I had no such intentions multiple times over the years. I decided to follow that foreign thought, that felt divine in nature, and look into it. I was told by my favorite surgeon, a female leader in her field, I could do it, I could go to nursing school. The college advisor told me something different. She told me I could never achieve my goal of being a nurse with four children and a part-time job. I needed all A’s to get in and that was just impossible.
I knew that becoming a nurse was my ultimate goal so I began to work backwards to figure out how to get there. I have 6 prerequisites to take. I spent weeks figuring our where the classes were, either online or locally, and I took only one class at a time until I had all A’s and I could apply. I became a nurse two years later.
This am as I was getting my coffee at the airport, full of anxiety getting on a plane after coming home to the devastation the last time I left home, standing next to a pilot. I asked him where he was trained for some reason. He said the Air Force. I told him how I had taken private pilot lessons at BGSU. He said he has known pilots who have gone through that program. He asked me if I regretted it. I let a heart beat of silence between us pass before I said no, I am a nurse. I was not meant to be a pilot, it just took me awhile to figure it out. I anxiously boarded the plane 30 minutes later. Wondering how I am supposed to stay present for a nursing conference, fully paid for before my daughter’s passing. I buckled my seatbelt and the flight attendant introduced herself as Mickey. I smiled, with tear filled eyes. Thats my daughter’s nickname from me since birth. Ok, I can do it, Mickey, I can go.
Today, in this time of trauma, with the loss of a child, I realize I am stuck. I cannot move forward, I almost cannot physically move. Day to-day tasks seem daunting. My career seems uncertain. I have a visual metaphorical picture in my head of pool balls rolling in one direction until they are hit, and like myself and my family we forever will roll in a new direction. I cannot say it is a bad direction, just an unknown direction. In reality, it is probably something we like to call in the nursing world, perceived control. I look back at the point in my life where I joined the military and the direction that it sent me. The middle of the desert to be literal, but eventually, I bumped along and landed into nursing, where I believe I was meant to go all along by one path or another.
So here I am, stuck. I am stuck mentally and physically with a life changing experience that feels like it is knocking me into a different direction. I have spent the last 6 weeks feeling like an entirely different person. It is most likely because I am a different person. I heard similar feelings in my husband’s voice and my 21 year old’s voice. So I know I am not alone in the way trauma changes a person and this feeling of stuck. Reflecting on all of this, I realized that yesterday, an angel gave me a little reminder that was a little piece of wisdom. Well, she is not exactly an angel per say, but I believe God uses people around us to help us, In this case unknowingly.
She said to me, about something totally unrelated, If you know where you want to be, then you just have to figure out all the stages or steps in between to get there. One step at a time. It was a reminder of how I accomplished going to nursing school when faced with being told it was impossible. I am thankful for that advice, that was actually about hair, but she is spot on. I may be stuck, in my grief and my sadness, but I just have to understand where I want to be and then I just fill in the steps of how to get there. I can accomplish those steps just one step at a time. No matter what direction my pool ball has been knocked into, I can get there, I can move. One tiny baby step at a time.