Survivor. The word alone carries so much weight. Google defined sur*vi*vor- noun as a person who copes well with difficulties in their life. –“she is a born survivor,” is the example they gave.
I don’t know that I would define myself as a survivor. I certainly am resilient, strong, and sometimes a little feisty, and definitely a fighter.
Suppose growing up as the eldest of 8 kids has a little something to do with that. I’ve had a few difficulties in my life, some undoubtedly molded who I am today, others caused me heart-ache, some fear, a few anger, and many allowed for me to experience deep seeded happiness and love.
When I was first invited to join the, I am Bold, I Rise campaign I said no. I didn’t believe I had a “strong” enough “survivor” story to share. Anel told me to think about it, I didn’t. So when she called me a few days later I really didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want to admit that I hadn’t taken the time to think about it, nor did I want to say yes and commit to something I didn’t think I was “qualified” for. I asked a lot of question (to no one’s surprise) and I hesitantly agreed to it. I realized I was more resistant to the idea of having my name and picture out in the social media world. I have a wonderful story of resiliency to share, but doing a photo shoot? Yeah, none of that was remotely linked to anything I was comfortable with.
So to answer your question Anel, I would say that one of the toughest growing pains I have experienced was realizing that I was in a marriage that no matter how much I tried to save had no salvaging. I had to make the decision to ask for a divorce from the man I thought I was going to grow old with. My whole world seemed to have collapsed. I was in a pool of quick sand so deep that not even the God I prayed to everyday could pull me out.
At the time all I could think about was what a failure I was. I felt defeated. Growing-up being the first child and grandchild I got to experience lots of first-everything’s. First to study abroad in high school, first go to college, first to get a master’s degree, oh so many first. Adding first to be divorced was not a title I wanted to add to my list. And to top it all off I wasn’t even 30. I was so caught up with what people (my parents, my grandparents, & siblings) would say and think. I couldn’t be a disappointment to them.
The marriage lasted 6 years too long. I was scared, I was disappointed, I was concerned with what others would say and think. I didn’t make mistakes, I didn’t lose. This was a huge loss. Never mind everything that had already been lost all the years I stayed in the unhealthy relationship.
Ha, it’s funny how today I can smile at the memory that one day caused me so much hurt; the day I decided to break my silence and drop the “my life is perfect act.”
I talked with my parents; I met with my priest and finally accepted that after six years of fighting to make things work I was at my whist end, I had been cheated on too many times for me to count. I had traveled the world, owned a beautiful home, had his and hers Mercedes, shoes, jewelry, first row seats at sporting events, anything I wanted except for the love and respect from the man I fell in love with when I was 17. My first and only everything was slowly taking the best of me.
My dad reminded me that I was who I am because of ME and not because of the man I was married too. My mom held me and told me that this stumble would not break me and that I was worth more than anything anybody could think and much more than anything money could buy. My parents reminded me that I deserved to be respected. I was ME, I was strong, I was beautiful and I deserved to be loved. I was ME and I was no longer afraid to accept that my marriage was faulted.
Today, hmmm, today I am genuinely happy. I have certainly made my share of mistakes, and can’t deny that have experienced lots of fun and some aches making those mistakes. I thank God that the experience did not jade me to love and instead strengthen my love and forgiveness for those in my life. It also allowed me to let go of what people may or may not think of and about me. I am a much more care-free person today than I was then and I have no doubt that God will continue to bless me with his fabulousness.