The most stressful moment of my life to date came during the early spring days of 2005, two days before the end of the school year. That was a life changing moment for me, one that almost happened numerous times before and had somehow slipped out almost accidentally.
But before you can understand that you need a frame of reference. I was born in the North End; my parents split up before I can even remember them being together. When I was about five my mom remarried James, my stepdad.
James and I had a tense relationship from the beginning. I didn’t have anything against him marrying my mom; he just always seemed kind of mean to me and my sister and a little bit too nice to his son Andrew. Andrew was the subject of countless legal battles between his mother and James, the result of which are still ongoing today.
When I was about 10, after many consultations between my parents and “God” — they were extremely active born again Christians at that time — we moved to Wells, Minnesota. While there, we lived with my great aunt and uncle for about six months before it was made clear by “God’s” clear revelations that we were again to move on, this time to Colorado Springs, Colorado.
I should flesh that part out a bit more — this revelation came in the form of my great grandfather’s funeral where James talked to someone after the service about places to live. This conversation led to him hearing about how great Colorado Springs is and how great everything there was, etc.. Well, when we got back from the funeral it turned out that James was laid off, thus completing the revelation. That is apparently how “God” communicates to us, through job layoffs and polite funeral conversation.
So James went to Colorado Springs to try and find a job, the rest of us joining him afterwards — where we lived in a motel for the next few months. The next one of these situations came about while my sister and I were away visiting my dad for the summer. When we came back it was explained to us that now we were going to be studying Messianic Judaism. I’ll say that again — we left for summer, came back and my ultra Christian parents have transformed into Messianic Jews, and we got pulled along for the ride.
Various other interesting things happened to us after this such as having the doors to our rooms removed, all of the contents of our rooms placed in public storage and having to spend most of the summer doing six or so hours of yard work a day. And I don’t mean screw around for an hour and then go inside, I mean things like digging a tree out of the rock hard soils of Colorado when it was around 25 to 30 degrees out.
All of this led up to the most stressful moment of my life, one that I literally have nightmares about to this day. Eventually, my 15-year-old self realized that this was a bunch of bullshit. When talking to my friends they literally did not believe that these events had happened to me. So it got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore; I had decided that I would rather live with my dad back in Winnipeg and his quirks rather than stay in Colorado any longer. The problem was that I had to find a way of confronting my mom and stepdad about the issue. For over a year this coming conflict brewed inside of me. Then one day I just told my Mom that I was going to move out. I don’t even really remember how it happened; it seemed like more of an accident than anything. That was the easy part too . . . talking to James about this situation was one of the most intense conversations I’ve ever had in my life. We were sitting in the kitchen and he just asked me if I thought that this was a good idea. Then he explained to me that if I left, it should be something that I had to live through, no switching back and forth, but if it were really necessary there would always be a place for me with them.
In hindsight, I think that was probably the first time he had talked to me as though I were an equal rather than just some dumb kid. After that my mom cried a bunch and said things like I didn’t love her, and it was suggested for many years afterwards that I was a traitor or something, I never really understood the whole thing to start with and leaving didn’t help explain anything either.
After that I lived with my dad and stepmom for about five years until they split up and I joined the military.
To follow up on the situation with my mom, James and sister, they now live out in B.C.. My sister is doing extremely well in school, my mom is happy to be living in B.C. and James has a good job and travels a lot. In the past two years I have had many personal growth experiences and now I enjoy talking to both my mom and James about philosophy, religion and life in general. They are no longer Messianic Jews and have dropped the religious standpoint altogether in favour of a life in the present focused on their actions and how they affect people now, something that I had personally adopted several years earlier. My sister and I are best friends, and though we don’t talk constantly, the conversations we do have are usually very interesting.
So although I went through this odyssey of insanity, I have to say that these experiences really shaped me into who I am today. Without them I wouldn’t be anywhere near as mentally flexible or resilient. So even if you are feeling stressed you can use the situation to improve yourself in some way, even if it seems painful at the time. Often the more difficult something is the more you will learn from surviving it, until you can not only survive in difficult situations, but thrive in them as well.