Men are inherently seen as independent, but there’s a lot of room to grow for women to be seen that way. Society often sees women as weaker, and it is hard to not buy into some of the reasoning. It can be a little scary to travel alone or even be alone in certain places. But if I lived my life in fear, I would not accomplish everything I wanted to in my life.
In 2009 my daughter’s father and I split, and our marriage ended. My daughter was 2 and I lived thousands of miles away from my ex. The learning curve was steep, and I made a lot of financial, personal, and emotional mistakes through the first several years after. I had always been a people pleaser, and it took a long time to find strength in the power of decision. In the power over my own life.
In 2014 or so, life began to change. I moved on from a tough 2nd marriage and began to put myself first. My pastor had encouraged me to stay in an emotional, mental and sexually abusive marriage. I did not agree and my descent from Christianity and religion ensued. I am not a feminist so to speak, but I stand for self-empowerment, the right to do what is best for yourself, and the right to change your mind, including with marriage vows.
In 2015 I had a brain tumor removed and learned the lesson of appreciating life. Both my maternal grandmother and paternal grandmother passed away within months of each other. Through the pain of the year, I began to make decisions to bring joy into mine and my daughter’s lives. I learned in choosing the right friends and to stick with family. In my last visit with my maternal grandmother, stiches still fresh in my head from my surgery, she said to me, “I heard you had a brain tumor and didn’t want you to be alone so I got one too.” I will never forget her choice to bring a smile to my face during one of her toughest times.
In 2016 I took my first solo road trip. I had asked maybe 30 people if they could join, and when no one could, I told myself that I shouldn’t give up my vacation because of it. I should go alone. I drove 3600 miles, through 6 states over the course of 10 days, all with a nail in my tire and my engine needing an oil refill daily. It was possibly the best vacation of my life. It was cathartic, exhilarating, and full of self-growth. I could do anything I wanted, listen to any music I wanted and not worry for a split second about anyone else and their wants or needs.
In 2018 I bought my own house and realized that there are some things I cannot do alone. My dad had to re-build nearly ½ of the house due to black mold. That was a great lesson in feeling loved. Often, I had opted for self-sacrifice over feeling loved in relationships because I could not bear to feel the other’s unhappiness. My parents undying devotion to me, regardless if we get along all the time, is something I will always appreciate and surely pass along to my daughter. They exemplify what true love should be.
Since 2014, my life has done nothing but get better, despite small ups and downs. I learned that having a relationship with yourself is the most important one, love is stronger than anything, and I have the power to make decisions that make my life better. The only person I can control is myself and I relish in that now. I dream big for myself, I love big, I set boundaries, and I am full of joy.