A point of no return occurs when turning back or changing your mind is no longer an option. I believe everyone has had a heart-throbbing-what-am-I-doing moment or two in life. For me, the second I released my grip from the C-182 airplane wing and the moment I ran away from my father’s house were just two times in my life.
Running away from home and skydiving for the first time, may not seem to have much in common; they both are examples of reaching a point of no return. Although stress, fear, and danger were present during both events, the catalysts that led me to both points were very, very different.
“Where the hell is the smiley face?” Those were the first words I yelled as I released my grip from the wing of the plane. I was on a first date and neither of us had ever been skydiving. We arrived at the jump school before the sun rose and spent the entire morning going through the steps of a static line parachute jump. Over and over again we practiced each step of the process under the watchful eye of the instructor. By early afternoon, I found myself 3,500 feet above the Earth, with my feet dangling beneath me as I held onto a bar underneath the wing in a clinched death grip. Like clockwork, I went through the final step we had practiced on a grounded practice plane. Looking up at the underside of the wing above me, I arched my body into a backwards C position just as I released my death grip.
On the practice plane, there was a bright yellow happy face sticker. As I looked at the wing during my jump, there was no such sticker, and panic sunk in. Counting in my head, “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” The cord connected to the plane and my parachute pulled , causing my parachute to open with a violent jolt. My life flashed before my eyes like a movie on fast forward. I momentarily felt suffocated within my fear, as I realized that I had passed the point of no return. My heart, still pounding in my chest, was the only sound I could hear as I floated down to the Earth below. “I love my life, I love my family!” I screamed out into the open air. Suddenly, I was hit by emotion as I glanced down below and noticed the interstate. My mind flashed back to another moment in my life when I was still a child.
At five years of age, I believed that my daddy spun the Earth, as I’m sure most little girls do. Days away from my sixth birthday, my father’s voice woke me from my sleep. “Pumpkin, wake up”, he said. I could tell that it was still dark outside and all the lights in the house were off. “Was something wrong with my mommy and the new baby at the hospital?” I thought to myself. As my father carried me into the hallway, I heard his deep voice whisper. “Mommy is not here and daddy is so lonely.” “It’s alright daddy, don’t be scared”, I replied as he carried me into my parent’s bedroom.
Before 1980, I had never heard the word molestation. As I sat on the beige, shag carpet, watching the Phil Donoghue show, the word flew out of the T.V. and crushed my twelve year old soul. As the guest described the same life that I had lived for almost eight years of my life, a cold blackness enveloped my world. I was home with my younger siblings without parents, as my father was overseas and my step-mother was out shopping. For a moment, I was suffocated in anger, disgust, and embarrassment. Thoughts of killing myself flooded my young mind, as I began to scream. “I hate my life, I hate my family!” As the words left my mouth, my infant brother began to cry. His cry saved my life.
Several hours later, my step-mother walked into the house. Fists clenched, I yelled in her direction with all the volume I could muster. “I know what is going on in this house and I’m calling the police!” Without hesitation, my step-mother barked back. “You’re going to hell, young lady!” Suddenly the sting of her hand struck the left-side of my face with such force; it caused my head to turn towards the kitchen. As my eyes filled up with tears, I spotted the bright yellow phone hanging on the kitchen wall. My body took control, as I ran toward the phone on the wall. As I picked up the receiver, it was abruptly pulled off the wall and out of my hand. My step-mother ran through the kitchen and out of the house, with the only phone in the house tucked safely under her arm. This was way before cell phones. As she ran to our neighbors home, the pounding of my heart was the only sound I heard. I realized that I had passed the point of no return. If I didn’t start running away from my home, I knew my father would kill me, bury me in the backyard and tell everyone my estranged mother took me. No one would question. My pace was swift as I walked down our street towards the interstate. One step after the other, knowing that I could never return to the only home I had known. Frightened and unsure of what would happen or where I would go, I continued walking alongside the interstate in the dead of night.
Although, both of these moments in my life were so very different, some of the emotions were the same. I was the one who chose to go skydiving and put myself in a possible life or death situation. I did not have a master jumper strapped to my back to save me if I panicked or made a mistake. I was on my own and my actions would dictate the outcome. In my childhood, I did not choose to be abused and taken advantage of by the adults in my life. I did however, choose to save my own life by jumping into the unknown without assistance from anyone.