When Your World Turns Upside Down
Sometimes your world turns upside down in an instant, and your life is never the same again. These events might be as traumatic as the death of a loved one, or as deceptively simple as seeing a beautiful sight for the first time. We asked people to send us details about an event that acted as a catalyst for change in their lives.
Many thanks to everyone who submitted something. It was really difficult to narrow down, but here are ten of the best.
1. Escaping domestic violence and stalking
By Alexis A Moore, founder and president of Survivors in Action
In 2004 I fled a violent and abusive relationship. My abusive partner’s job involved locating people and assets, and because of this, the women’s shelter I ran to refused to take me. Despite being bloody and bruised, they gave me no help at all, and threw me out onto the streets like garbage. I had to take matters into my own hands, and went into hiding.
Over the next two years I was continually stalked and threatened by my abuser, but I couldn’t find anyone to help. Lawyers would claim to be worried about their own safety (often after taking my money), and the cops refused to take domestic violence, stalking and cyber-stalking seriously as crimes.
I sent out literally thousands of letters to different agencies, explaining my situation and asking for help. All were ignored. Finally, in 2006, one agency responded. They were supportive, though unable to help, but that response was enough to give me hope and turn my life around.
I started volunteering for them, doing fundraising and victim support. In 2007 I founded Survivors in Action, to advocate for victims of domestic violence. A large part of our mission is to hold domestic violence resources accountable to victims.
Enduring the hell of being abused and stalked has in some ways been a great gift. It has made me a stronger, wiser woman, and has given me a new lease on life and the opportunity to help others.
2. La Sagrada Familia and life are a work in progress
The first time I stepped outside my American comfort zone was a trip to Spain, and visiting La Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona was a real eye-opening experience.
I was really moved by the building’s grandiose stature, and how the light penetrates the unfinished walls and ceilings. By how the space and character keep changing day by day, piece by piece; by how thousands of people are literally visiting a construction site.
Looking at this work in progress opened my eyes to something new, strange, and bigger than I could imagine. For me, La Sagrada Familia is like a modern ruin. We visit ancient ruins and marvel at all the history that took place there. But this is the inverse, a space ripe with potential that encourages you to participate in its ongoing construction, to wonder not just about its past and ever-changing present, but also about its possible future outcomes.
La Sagrada Familia showed me the beauty of the strange and the unknown. It’s like a metaphor for life, and made me want to build something myself out of places and experiences like this one. It awakened a sense of wonder in me about the meanings and possibilities of life, and turned me into the traveler I am today.
3. Finding hope in the ebb and flow of life
By Cristina Dimen
I stood on the deck and gazed into the bay, waiting. Waiting for the comfort that always fills my heart when I watch the waters ebb and flow along the shoreline of Narragansett Bay, when I listen to the gulls squawk, when I see wind-filled sails burst forward or spot pebbles on the beach awash with foam. But the view was amiss, and all I could feel was stillness, as if time had stopped.
Inside the yellow house behind me, my father-in-law lay attached to a respirator. His still frame was void of the quiet strength that was his nature, and although open, his eyes no longer saw the family and friends gathered around him. But we knew our voices could still be heard. We held his hands. With tears flowing freely, we let him know he wasn’t alone. With his loved ones at his side, he succumbed to cancer and left us that night.
Today, a splash of yellow-orange tints the morning sky. Gulls glide in from afar, and the bay waters embrace the shore. Life’s rhythmic scene is beautiful, yet different. As the live painting unfolds before me, my grief has company – hope. I remember Dad’s appreciation for life, and his love for this scenery. It gives me hope that I, too, will value the ebb and flow of life. I’m learning to look up from my laptop, to really enjoy this journey with loved ones.
Keep reading to hear about a supernatural encounter on the Isle of Skye!