Personal Defining Moment Essay Example



There are parts of my life that have made me who I am today without a doubt. There’s one story in particular that made all the difference. It’s not a fun experience, but it’s one that I lived through, and I’m still dealing with it to this day. The effects are mixed, some positive, some negative, but all important. To begin, context. My family and I attended a methodist church for about 13 years. My dad was the music minister there as well. He was in charge of the adult and youth choir, putting together the order for every service, and he also took care of all IT issues. My sister and I at the time were involved in the youth group and the youth choir. Although it may not seem important yet, it’s a major part of the rest of the experience.

Summer of 2016, my older sister and I came home from an 8-8 marching band rehearsal. Everything seemed to be normal, but when we got back we were called upstairs by our parents. This was unnatural, they had never hung out upstairs without anyone else being there. Even more odd, we weren’t welcomed home. There wasn’t a “hey girls, how was your day,” just silence. We knew something was wrong. I held my breath as we sat down on the carpet and my mom began to talk, also strange. If there was an emergency or anything family related, our dad was usually the first to talk. She proceeded to tell us that our dad was being forced to leave his job. I didn’t find out why until March of the next year at our first and only family therapy session. In the time between those two events, and even following March, my siblings and I were met with silence when we asked questions. My little brother, who has down syndrome, didn’t understand what was happening and no one was willing to explain it to him. It was hard. I had made most of my friends at that church, and I could only see them once every few months since I wasn’t there every Sunday. Things became very tense, as my sister began to find out from her friends what they thought had happened, and had then confronted my mother who finally told her the truth. She made assumptions about our dad that weren’t true and it created a split in the family. I felt like I was on the receiving end of most of it. We hardly had a day that wasn’t filled with a fight, whether in the morning before school or at the dinner table, most of them baseless. 

At the session in March, my dad finally told me what happened, as Savannah already knew of course and Ben wasn’t paying enough attention to understand. That August, my dad had been called into a meeting where he was ambushed by our closest family friends. My dad was a runner and had running buddies at the church. Two of them were in this group. One of the women that he ran with had recently gone through a divorce or a split, and he was being kind to her. I’m not exactly sure in what way, which makes this story somewhat fallible, but he didn’t see an explanation towards keeping all the messages. Despite his intentions being to simply comfort this woman, her friends, also friends of my fathers’, convinced her that he was flirting. They told her that he must have been trying to cheat on my mother and take advantage of her vulnerable situation. She believed them. Rather than having a civilized conversation about it, or telling my mom what they thought was going on, they called him into his place of work and yelled at him for three hours. There were no witnesses, besides possible video surveillance, and he was hardly able to get a word in. After the meeting, completely baffled, he went to his boss, the head minister at the church. He explained the situation. He told him everything that he knew, and everything that he had actually done in comparison to what he was being accused of. He then went home, assuming that was the end of it. Obviously, it wasn’t. 

The head minister then called in our family friends, asking their side of the story, and he favored theirs. Once again, I have no explanation as to why. As adultery is a major crime, especially in the church, he was called in once again. He was sat down in front of the head minister, the bishop, and these family friends and given a choice: He could either leave willingly and never speak on the subject and not sue, or he would be publicly fired and the story would be told throughout the church. There were no external witnesses for my dad’s case, actually required by the methodist workers guidelines, so they didn’t even give him the chance. I’ve spent years being angry about this encounter, and my brother still doesn’t completely understand it, which has made family discussions difficult. At one point, everything was so tense that I didn’t want to go home anymore in case someone wanted to yell at me. I was mad at everyone, my sister for hiding it from me, my mom from telling her and not me, my dad for taking it out on us, the opposing side for being horrible and making up lies that they knew would tear us apart, and, of course, the church. Around this time, I started going back to therapy on my own. I was diagnosed with depression and a generalized anxiety disorder. The therapist asked for my mother to come in with me one day so that she could support me as I told my mother how I was feeling. She told me that I was safe, that they would come up with a solution to make everything feel better. My mom immediately broke this promise two days later since she “could no longer handle it.” They confronted me and I could barely talk, the whole thing followed by the classic, “don’t you feel so much better now?” No. I didn’t, and I still don’t.

My mental health has restricted me in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. My anxiety continued to get worse after this instance since I felt like I had no one to confide in anymore besides my therapist and my best friend. I lived through dancing and that was it. Everything else felt like a struggle. Sometimes it still does. Things are different now, of course. My dad has a new job, we hardly see the other family anymore, at least not the adults anyway. Their son actually has a career in music and has been releasing incredible songs, one I even used as my routine for MA Nationals 2020, which was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid. Ben’s starting to pick up on more social cues, knowing that he shouldn’t bring up specific people at different times, but he needs to talk about it to confirm that it’s actually real. I have an emotional support animal now, a three year old Maltese-Poodle mix named April. It’s overdone, but she saved my life. 

You’re probably asking what the point of this essay was, or what topic I even chose. There are a few that it works with, but for me it’s a defining moment for personal growth. This event changed me entirely. I’ve learned how to deal with hard situations now, and I know that it’s alright to depend on other people sometimes. I was an independent child, and this made me realize that sometimes, you actually do need help, and it’s okay to ask for that help. I also know now that with hard work, you can make it through the worst days. As those cheesy inspirational posters say, “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.” I also learned that I can’t control everything. I’ve spent countless hours trying to understand why all of this happened, but I know now that I can’t change it, and I can’t change what other people think. I can’t go back in time and make the whole thing disappear, and I don’t want to. No matter how horrible it was, I believe all of us came out as better people. I can’t forget what happened, and I can’t forgive everyone either, but I can grow and learn, making me the bigger person.