Another Storm

Note:  Two days ago, I began to feel anxious and fearful–completely in survival mode once again.  I dissected it, and found nothing.  Until I realized that I was actually coming down with something, and my moods (and limited capacity for rational thought) were just reactions to feeling sick.  Today, finally, the room began to feel like Moonraker at anchor, so I left work early and took a day off. 

But I am sharing with you a very special post that I wrote, two falls ago, about an incident that happened in my classroom, early in my teaching career.  I hid this post after I wrote it–I had no subscribers at the time, back at Blog.com, and I didn’t plug it on Facebook, because I thought it was too personal.  My, how things have changed!  This is about a student, but there are no personal details, so his ananonymity is protected.  I hope you enjoy it.

At this time, on this day, every year, a certain student weighs heavily on my mind.

If all went well, he graduated last year. I hope all went well. I hope his success continued after I was no longer a part of his life.

Seven years ago, on this day, that student physically harmed me. He caused an injury that left me in constant pain for over a year. Three months of physical therapy led to an almost-miraculous improvement. After that, I was still noticeably weaker until our sailing trip from Tawas to Bay City. At that time, I had to take the tiller with my left arm through higher winds than we had ever encountered. That run was physically exhausting, but it never caused any pain to my damaged arm muscles. My left arm has been as strong as my right since then.

November 2004 was a time that challenged me. It taught me to rely on my team members; those who held me up and supported me through such a dark time, and those who challenged me to see everything in a different light. When I saw what could possibly be, I fought to keep this student under my care, in spite of the damage–both physically and emotionally–that I had sustained. Then, as we worked together, I saw a life transformed, a story changed. The student who damaged my body went on to achieve straight A’s. I was humbled; I was awed.

Those of us on his team were connected; we were bonded by the fact that we had all witnessed–and been part of–a miracle. To this day, even though we rarely speak of it, we have a strong friendship resulting from that experience.

I took the helm through the storm. But a helmsman is no greater than her crew. Had I not been told the coordinates, I could not have gotten us through the fog.

That year, on this day, I learned to believe. To believe in the power of a human being to change, to become something wonderful once given the right supports. To believe in the power of forgiveness, of moving past your own injuries to care for the wounds of others. To believe that tomorrow is something that can’t be seen, something that can be wonderful.

I would never ask to relive the experience. But it has changed me, and I am grateful to be the person I have become.

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19 thoughts on “Another Storm

  1. Wow, Bethany, that is a stunning turn of events! I’m glad that both of you weathered the storm and are better persons for having done so. I’m also glad you decided to share the story again. Thank you!

  2. A very powerful post. I had traumatic experiences while teaching, too, but nothing serious. (the gun I had pulled on me turned out to be a toy gun, for one thing, but there were other incidents). I went on maternity leave and left the school too soon to hear what every happened to those students. Sometimes I even wonder with my own children where we are headed, I am encouraged by what you have experienced and learnt and felt about change and forgiveness. Thanks.

  3. Thank you for this Bethany.
    It takes courage to forgive those who have hurt us, but I have found that forgiveness lightens my heart for the future.
    I have forgiven my ex for the emotional abuse I was subjected to, and have wished him well in his life (in my thoughts), because the anger and pain were only hurting me, not him.
    What a great story. I’m glad it turned out well for both of you.

    • Right you are, Linda. I found that I had a MUCH easier time forgiving this student, than adults who have caused me angst (Kendra, for example), but that the hardest part has always been forgiving myself. And all three are necessary.

  4. Wow. I am glad you were able toweather the storm and become the person you are.
    I wanted to addthat sometimes I start to feel depressed, then the next day I wake up sick. It’s like an “aha” moment.

  5. Bethany, I felt so many connections to this one. First, I like how you said you wouldn’t wish to relive it. I feel that way about several events in my life. They made me the person I am, but to wish myself through them again? Not so much…

    I am so glad you were able to heal and that this student was transformed by the support you and your team were able to provide. What a success story.

    • I’ve got a LOT of things I would never relive! (Like last winter, for one). I’ve often wondered, if I could go back, if I would change certain things (Kendra, specifically) so that they never happened. I decided that I’m glad that’s a hypothetical question, and something that could never happen! And that things are as they are, and we should just be grateful for that. There really is no room for regrets.

  6. Hi Bethany….glad to hear you made it through your minor condition this time and took a day off–wisdom is knowing when our body is sending us a message and then following through with that knowledge. And your “old” post–just perfect. What a GREAT example of learning from even the most painful experiences. And your ability to forgive in spite of the pain is a lesson for us all. Thanks as always…. ~Kathy

    • One of the best quotes I ever heard was, “Vengeance does not bring closure, forgiveness does.” (It was actually on a story on NPR. I don’t remember who said it!)

  7. It’s the storms of life that teach us, and that change us. And it’s always amazing when when we can love in spite of the pain, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing this post from your past.

  8. Wow — what a positive story. It takes real strength to forgive eventhough a lot of us would rather hold grudges and anger. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. Wow, what a deep and beautiful story. Through mere curiosity I would like to know more details, but that is missing the point. Although you wouldn’t want this event to occur, it did, and now it changed you and made you a stronger person, both physically and emotionally. That is a nice bonus to come out of this negative situation.

    Thank you for sharing

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