I truly believe that before I came into this world, God asked me ‘what would you like to do in this life?’ And I responded, ‘I want to teach about self-reliance.’ And God said, ‘then we better get your butt into an orphanage.’– Dr. Wayne Dyer
You know the movie scene where the ship captain sees weather on the horizon, and when the storm hits, he’s up in the crow’s nest cursing the wrath of God?
That was me in my early twenties.
Angry, depressed, overweight, addicted – lost at sea. But then, things began to change. I turned my attention elsewhere and since have completely adjusted the sails.
Clouds on the Horizon
I grew up in a small town in Iowa. I’m the youngest of four brothers, and until a certain age, I experienced a relatively mundane childhood.
Unfortunately, you can’t see trauma coming like clouds forming on the horizon, and boy was I in for one heck of a storm.
When I was around 10 years old, I was playing basketball in our driveway, my usual afternoon activity. However, one evening, my game was interrupted by something unexpected.
This night, a police car and a shiny black sedan pulled up beside our house, and out of it emerged a uniformed officer and our Priest – an ominous fleet.
The next thing I remember is running into the house after hearing the desperate screams of my mother, who was sprawled on the floor in a fit of agony.
My brother, Erik, who was just 17 years old at the time, had lost his life in a motor vehicle accident along with his best friend John. It was a devastating blow, and like waves pounding the hull, the years to follow were riddled with uncertainty, anxiety, fear, fighting, divorce, substance abuse, and at times, despair.
“When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear”
Fast forward 10 years. I’m living life on my own and carrying all of that unaddressed trauma with me. I’m overweight, depressed, borrowing money from family members, and living a life void of purpose.
Then, I came across a book. It wasn’t the first time this book had slipped into my consciousness, though. When I was 18 a dear friend offered it to me, but as the old saying goes, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
The book was called Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. It’s a translation of the Tao Te Ching, a book written in China by a man named Lao Tzu. The Tao was written 500 years before the bible and offers 81 verses that are a guide to living the Way.
I began to study and practice the lessons, and soon after, I noticed things start to change. As if the universe stopped colluding against me, and started orchestrating for me, the right people showed up, the opportunities showed up, the energy to take on new tasks showed up. Most importantly, however, I found a proficiency for allowing inner peace to prevail no matter the situation.
Finding the Calm After the Storm
As I sit here writing this, now 31 years old, I am filled with so much gratitude for everything that has shown up in my life. I am a Registered Nurse, I’m married to an amazing woman, and we have incredible pets and a quaint house where all of our dreams become manifest.
But it’s not just the “good” that I’m grateful for. I’m also grateful for the hardship that’s led me to this place.
My struggles, and the knowledge that has led me to overcome them, are all part of this divine purpose that I seek to fulfill daily. Truly, my purpose was hidden behind my obstacles all along.
All that weather, all that time in the crow’s nest, now lives in my mind as part of my education.
Because those experiences led to the dissolution of my so-called “self”, and what remained evaporated in the warmth of something greater.
Once again as the ship captain, I’m now gazing into sunny skies. Not even that, I am the sky, and the ground, I see myself in everything that enters my experience.
In instant acknowledgment of the light bouncing off of everything that I see, I see all as a reflection of the divine that flows through me.
When I look back now, there never really was a storm. All of that anger, fear, and emotional struggle, were just symptoms of a narrative I created to try to make sense of the pain.
But we’re all the authors of our own story, nobody else can write it for you. You, and only you, are in control of how you perceive everything that has led you to where you are right now.
My purpose was hidden behind my obstacles, and that purpose is to share my story and help those who find themselves stuck in the crow’s nest.
Have you had a similar experience overcoming trauma and adversity? How has that experience shaped who you are today? Post your experience in the comments section below and show others that they, too, can rewrite their story.