Chapter Five: Creating Exact Moments of Healing

I was in a supermarket. I remember an African-American boy about age 7, trying to get a bottle of soda off the shelf. He dropped it, and it exploded all over the floor. Eyes of terror looked up at me. At 22 years old, I stood frozen. I couldn’t move; I didn’t move. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. I just didn’t do anything. Now, when I remember that moment, I think about how I didn’t make him my business. I maintained the boundary of, “You’re not my responsibility even though my heart goes out to you.” When I remember this moment, I wish I could go back to the supermarket in that exact moment and help him. I want to kneel down at eye level and tell him it’s fine, that I’ve done that too, and then help him negotiate with the supermarket manager. Show him how to do that. If they are holding him accountable, give him money. I learned from that moment, and I would never behave in the same way again.

Why does the moment with that beautiful child repeat itself in my memory? Because we locked eyes? Because he was black? I can’t say for sure. I see those little brown eyes, and worry about what I taught him. How could I not have helped him? For me, it could have been a moment of satisfaction; a time when I contributed something significant to another person; when I met the moment head on with full capacity to provide. Instead, I merged with the trauma response, and became paralyzed, made my exit instead of my entrance. It was, and still is, indigestible to my system. With his eyes, he asked for help. I’m afraid that his memory will be that of my back walking away in his moment of need.

I can say for sure he was my teacher. I learned it’s not enough to feel compassion. I must move out on my compassion, and put it into action. I missed the moment for my healing, and his, and it’s interesting that my life would become about providing these moments of healing in other people’s lives.

Although this was a single, brief incident in my life, it gave me a jolt, a wake-up call, a clear window into how I needed to grow. I know you have heard the phrases, “It’s too late; it happened; it’s over; grow up; get over it.” And you may have said that to yourself at one time or another. Well, get over that idea. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong.

You are a magnificently designed creature; the creator made you incredibly perfect, not flawless. It’s never too late to go back to any moment in your life to relive, rewrite or re-create it in the exact way you want it to be in the present. Everyone has moments that haunt them. Heal those moments! They can become so imbedded in your being that they begin to shape your every thought and action. They become your master rather than you mastering them. So much time is wasted recounting, recollecting, bemoaning—time that could be used for providing. Make that moment of healing happen.

Unlike Superman, who was not allowed to interfere with the course of history, you must take the hero’s journey back in time. If you have a haunting memory, a recurring problem or an aching need that remains unfulfilled, it will stick in your gut with the strength of a bear. You can’t wish it away, deny it, erase it, wave fingers in front of your eyes at it or muscle your way through it. You must forage through the rubble to find the burning need at the heart of the matter. If not, an inner voice will haunt you with the demand, “Pay attention to me. I need you. I cannot change until you take care of me.” You must go back.

If you listen carefully to this voice, you can hear the truths that lie at the core of your “stuckness,” your immobility and inability to evolve gracefully. They whisper secrets of vulnerability that you have hidden from yourself, such as, "Until I am held in the arms of a loving father, I cannot open my heart to any man,” or ”I will never trust authority until I hear an admission of fault and an apology from the teacher who molested me,” or ”I’ll never be able to lose weight until I am fed and nurtured by a joyful mother.” In all cases, you must discover what went wrong, what is missing and what is needed and then provide it. These exact moments of healing must be purposeful and precisely tailored. They must respond to deeply felt needs that neither destiny nor the individual has yet healed.