I've been at or through or near many in my life. Few felt like such at the time, which I think is how the majority of us experience a crossroads. It's the hindsight, the looking back, that really tells us we were there.
Which brings up a strange point for me - it's when I look back at my decisions through the filters of wisdom and experience that I realise I was ever at a crossroads to begin with. That's what leads me to feeling like I made the right-or-wrong choice, but only based on what I think the potential outcome of the other choice, the road not taken, might have been.
Might have been is a phrase I sort of hate. My inner Buddhist rejects the notion of what might have been and instead always wants to focus on what is. My not-so-inner worry-er usually wins and then my worrying Buddhist is fretting over how I could have made different choices but is also feeling very Zen about it.
I have often thought of my decision to marry Colin as having been one of those moments - the action that started me down the path that I feel like I'm on today. I don't know what sort of life I might have built for myself had I not married him, but I know precisely how he changed me. So many of the filters I use to examine and understand life were formed because of his presence in my life, his influence on my thinking, and because of his death.
My experiences with Colin and his death are responsible in part for my eventual conversion and subsequent joining of the LDS church. His suicide left me broken - heart-broken, spirit-broken, life-broken. It took some time - five years or ten minutes - before I realised I needed some spirituality in my life. I needed something that would help me make sense of myself, make sense of the confusion and the anger and the ugly parts of life.
I didn't find the church right away. In fact, I didn't find the church for another twelve years. What I found instead was a desire to learn and to grow; a desire to find answers, or more commonly, to be okay with not having enough answers. More than anything, I just wanted to find something that made the ache go away. The problem with such an ache is - it doesn't go away. It sits, big and empty and perfectly happy to chew at the edges of my sanity and my happiness. I haven't yet found the thing that makes the ache go away, and truthfully, I think such a thing doesn't exist.
What I have found is a purpose for the aching. I have found opportunities for personal and spiritual growth that I honestly do not believe would have been possible if Colin hadn't died the way he did. And that's why I feel like he set my feet on this path.
I'm not sure where that leaves me. What was my crossroads? Was it marrying Colin at the ridiculously young age of 20? Was it facing his death two years later, or was it when I figured out that I needed a sense of spirituality in my life in order to put myself back together? Was it gaining a testimony of the church and becoming Mormon? I feel like the answer is both C) all of the above and D) none of the above.
I reflect back to the influences of Buddhism, which teach us to be fully engaged in our present moment and neither worry about the past nor attempt to perfectly coordinate our future. Because, oh, I would if I could but... where's the adventure in that?
Thanks to Danielle over at Sometimes Sweet for the journal prompt and for sharing her writing.