In order to know who we truly are, we must know what we are NOT.
I received profound evidence of this Truth when at the age of 7, I woke up stuck in a coma.
Stuck? You ask?
Yes, stuck – temporarily anyway.
I remember telling my left arm to move, but it would not.
I heard recognizable voices but it was a 100 times more muffled than watered down words in a pool.
Stuck in that coma, I could recognize voices but I could not fully comprehend the words spoken. For example, I heard Mary Poppin’s voice, whom I would later learn was Julie Andrews. I knew puppets were there with her – cute friendly puppets that I could not reach out and touch.
I knew I was stuck in my body. Shockingly enough, I was not terrified. I felt Peace Beyond Understanding for the first time in my life.
The coma was 100 times more safe, loving, and comfortable than the abusing, terrifying, drinking and drug dealing step-father ruling home I was temporarily hid from inside the coma.
Bob the Bastard was his name! He used to have just a boring plane, Bob name, but at the age of 5, I heard my Grandma call him a Bastard while standing under the basketball hoop in our driveway in Everett, Washington, gripping her cigarette with her lips tighter than her clenched fist – and Bastard is what I would call him from that day forward.
At the age of 5, I would stand and stare into the mirror until I saw my own reflection in the reflection of the blue in my eyes. Once I centered in I could see “ME” – taller, stronger, a Lion, a Warrior with long brown hair and weapons to forever protect myself and my brothers. I hated walking away from the mirror because my 5-year-old hands and my small frame felt so small compared to the Warrior Me I had just seen ….. In my reflection.
At 7, stuck in my body, I remembered who I was. I was strong. I was determined. I would live! Sure, I knew I could go on to a better place. After all, I talked to God, whom I knew had a jolly laugh, wore a red suit, had a pet bunny and made GodFather’s Pizza. How did I know God made GodFather’s Pizza you ask? His name is on every GodFather’s Pizza joint in the US, that’s how I knew! Besides, I used to try to get into the Kitchen at GodFather’s Pizza so I could ask Him for bus fare so I could buy my 1-way bus-ticket out of dodge! I knew He was in there making pizza, but what He wears, the pets he has or the food he likes is not as important as the fact that at 7-years-old, I knew I could go on with God or stay. For a fleeting moment, I asked him to bring my older brother inside the coma with me, but I knew my brother was out there bound by the physical, and I was stuck in my physical body.
It was then that I made a deal with God. I said, “This is what we are going to do, God.” I had a visual firmly in my mind of my two uncles trying to get a stalled out orange love bug car to start. One got in the driver seat, the other pushed the car down a hill from behind, and the uncle driving popped the clutch and Vroom – the car rumbled to life again. This is what I told God we would do. My job was to think and think and think and think and think and think until my brain and body connected again. God had the hard part; He had to reconnect my brain and body and jump start me back to life!
After 2 months of being stuck in that coma with doctor’s threatening to unplug me – and my Grandma having NO part of their prognosis -she said, “You will NOT unplug her – this baby girl will live!” and I woke up!
It was then that I knew and I still know – I am not bound by the physical.
When I began attending 2nd grade in the hospital school, the doctor told the teacher, ‘Don’t expect much from her, she’s retarded!”
I remember thinking while staring right through his despicable self, “Watch me, Bastard!” I went to work memorizing numbers, letters, words, sentences. I had no idea what they meant, but I memorized as much as I could in order to get out of there.
The coma and the hospital would prove to be a cakewalk compared to the physical circumstances I still found myself. And now, learning stuff was hard – everything felt like calculus even though it was 1+1. My brain didn’t work like it used to, and I knew it. But I wouldn’t be bound by the physical limitations of my brain. I would make it work for me. I would think and think and think and think until the fog in my mind lifted.
Growing up in the hood – or the wanna-be-hood – or whatever you want to call it. There was an orange government block of cheese in the fridge. That large, orange block of cheese looked so singled out and lonely with no other food around it. I remember thinking, "How pitiful!” there’s gotta be more than this! At 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18, I committed myself to memorizing and learning all that I could in school in order to figure out how to break past the limitations of the poverty mindset in which I had been born and kept as a POW. I knew I had to find a way beyond the physical limitations of upbringing. I knew I still needed that 1-way ticket out of dodge.
That ticket arrived with a vengeance via a USAF Aim High commercial. I’ll never forget the day. I was sitting next to my Grandma. We were watching Jessica Fletcher solve yet another predictable mystery. It was then that I knew, I would no longer be bound by my physical environment; I would aim high – well above my current physical limitations – in the USAF.
Sure, the shock of putting down my cheerleading pom-poms and picking up an M16 was terrifying, but the important thing was I was NOT back in dodge dodging pimps and prostitutes. When the Training Instructors with their Smokey the Bear Hats and their tap, tap, tapping shiny shoes threatened to send my butt back home to mamma – I was even more determined to survive at boot camp. Little did they know their boot camp was a cake-walk compared to where I’d come from. In fact, I got in trouble for smiling a lot. I smiled in the chow hall especially– there was way more food in there than cheese!
Little did I know then that the Air Force would serve to be a cake-walk compared to life after the military. But my combat zone childhood, the coma and the military prepared me for this new uncharted territory.
Do you currently find yourself in new, uncharted territory? As I get older, I am finding that “comfortable” is a façade. Or, maybe it’s that as soon as I am “comfortable” the next adventure, new opportunity, struggle, loss, or major question presents itself to me. Sometimes I embark willingly into new territory; sometimes, it is a fight to the death in my heart and mind.
Life is hard and beautiful at the same time, but I am realizing more and more that I have way to much evidence to live my life by any other motto than NOT being bound by the physical.
Recently doubt and fear tried to kick my butt and convince me that there was no way to follow dreams, help others immensely and overcome. I felt sad; I cried. Okay, at some point, I sobbed. But eventually, today, I said, “C’mon Self; You have way too much evidence to NOT believe!”
So, for whatever it’s worth and to whomever is reading, I hope you are encouraged because today I am reminded that in order to know who we truly are we must first know what we are NOT.
I am Kristin Seymour, and I AM NOT - nor do any of you have to be – bound by the physical.