That “Now I Get It” Moment


I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1970, followed by a Master of Nursing in 1974. After receiving my Master’s degree, I taught undergraduate nursing students at the University of Washington for five years. I enjoyed teaching, conducting research and writing for publication, all requirements of my Assistant Professor position. After teaching there for five years, I decided to take a job as a Maternal-Newborn Clinical Specialist at Swedish Hospital Medical Center in Seattle.

To progress along a tenure track at the University of Washington, I would have had to earn a PhD. At some point in the early 80’s, I decided to start working on the PhD. I don’t remember what my reasoning was at the time, but I imagine it was to keep my options open.  Afterall, I might want to teach at the University again someday. I continued to work at Swedish Hospital part time as I started the PhD program coursework. I don’t remember what the degree was called in those days but I know that it focused on nursing research and that I chose a track that had a special emphasis in statistics.

At some point during those years, I also started my personal therapy. I loved that process. It helped me move through the pain of my early years and I was able to make good friends and connect in a way I hadn’t in the past. One day, I had an insight that hit me like a sledge hammer. Even though I was doing very well in my studies, I realized I didn’t want a PhD and I didn’t want nursing research to be my life’s work.

In that moment, I realized I was studying for the degree in hopes that my father would acknowledge my existence if I had a PhD. My education had always been important to him and some of my earliest memories were of me asking him to make up math problems I could work on.

While I don’t think we were ever close, our relationship became even more strained as I moved into my teen and young adult years.  We had battles when I came home from college during summer vacations, usually over civil rights issues. During one of those altercations, he told me to get out of the house.  My mother intervened so I didn’t actually move out. The last straw came in 1971 when I told him I was going to marry Al, an African-American man I had met in Seattle.  Simply by my having made that statement, he declared that he would not speak to me again, and he didn’t. My father died in 1999 without ever having said a word to me or my children.

Realizing that my PhD study was so tied to a child-like yearning for my father’s approval ended my interest in the degree. I was loving my psychotherapy experience and in time it became my passion. I did what it took to get the credentialing to become a nurse psychotherapist (Clinical Nurse Specialist in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing) and I’ve been doing that work ever since.

I see the moment when I recognized the tie between my PhD program and the unfinished business from my past as one of those life changing moments, one that propelled me into work that I felt passionate about and believe I was born to do.


Written for Dungeon Prompts: That Now I Get It Moment

28 thoughts on “That “Now I Get It” Moment

  1. I was not aware of your reasoning for leaving school before. I remember when you were done with it, and were suddenly switching gears… That is definitely a now I get it moment.


    1. Interesting that you remember me switching gears! You probably would have been around 10 at that time. I wish I remembered whether I stopped school right away or took some time. I imagine I just finished the quarter.

      Those Now-I-Get-It moments can be so powerful. Thanks for writing the prompt.


  2. Thank you for sharing your interesting story. Those were turbulant days for sure. I’m a little older than you are, but my father was very stern, & racis as well. That’s their generation! I know things have changed, but changes are difficult, and some people continue to hang on to their narrow minded, and hateful ways. I hope I live long enough to see a society that becomes….”Live & let live.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sometimes I think we have made a lot of progress and sometimes I’m not so sure. These are also turbulent times! Thanks so much for reading the post and commenting.


      1. I do read your posts, but don’t always comment. Lately I have felt like we were back in the 60’s with all the racial turbulence going on. So sad people are still hanging onto hate!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I’ve seen that you’ve been visiting through your “likes!”

        It has seemed like that way to me too…… hopefully all of the repressed feelings surfacing will help us reach another level of healing.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my! I can relate. My very first post in my blog was about my dad. We had a similar falling out (I didn’t support the Viet Nam war). He was a veteran of WWII. I didn’t get it then….but now I do!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A great post, Karuna…yet so sad that your father acted like this. My father was a bigot when I was younger…not happy I married a French Canadian and my mother was. He changed a bit in his old age…he was a lonely, old man with a chip on his shoulder. Your father missed out big time on an amazing daughter and beautiful grands.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a powerful post, Karuna! Most of us never get a moment like that. Thank you for sharing and allowing others to look back for similar clarity. And I fully agree with Cheryl-Lynn – and also what a loss to that old man not to have had those rich years with a wonderful person like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My relationship is also inter-racial. My stepson also never met his grandparents in his mothers side – and we live in the same city.
    He is an amazing, tented, loving young man and I don’t understand at all. It’s been my privilege and joy to help to raise him since he was in kindergarten. He is 25 now.

    It doesn’t bother him because it’s so NOT personal – after all they never even held him as a baby. I have always thought it was their loss.


    1. Yes, it is definitely the grandparent’s loss. There was one point when my daughter was quite young that she wanted to call him. She was so insistent I decided to allow it. He hung up on her. Her immediate reaction was “I’m going to find a grandpa who loves me” and she called one of our family friends and asked him if he would be her grandfather! She is almost 38 years old and her brother is 40.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A heart-wrenching post!
    My brother & I have no children (& no intentions to have them) and my parents are in mourning over this.
    ALAS! It’s the nature of the mind to want what we don’t have (& imagine that it is the best) and disregard what we do have (imagining that it is the worst).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My son and daughter also do not plan to have children. They both live in Amma’s ashram in Kerala, India and have happy full lives. I am glad they have chosen the life path that is right for them. While I miss having grandchildren, it is only a little. My life also feels full and complete as it is.


      1. Yes, I know your wonderful children. I, too, am glad they have chosen the path that they have. For one thing, if they hadn’t I certainly wouldn’t eat as well as I do! Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I actually learned from your father”s behavior and as a result knew that I would never let anything interfere with my relationship with my children! Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

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