My mother graduated from high school in the late 1960’s, a time when women were becoming more prevalent in the workplace, and American culture was in a state of revolution as old ideas were being overturned by new ones. My grandpa, who I adore, but who was also clearly shaped by very traditional values, offered my mom a car if she didn’t go to college!
Her older sister graduated just two years previous and took the college route. I have to admire my aunt for being the trailblazer of my family. She was the first to seek higher education in our family, and the first female to plan a career for herself, rather than a domestic life. I can’t fault my mom for not going to college. After all, many men and women got by without degrees in those days; plus, she was always fed the message that she was a woman, her place was in the home, and she could get a car for just going to work and finding a husband!
I recall my grandma scrutinizing me as I did my homework, when I was in about 3rd grade. She wrinkled her nose and said “don’t worry about that, honey! Girls aren’t good at math!” She meant no harm, it was just how she had been raised; but, the seed was planted, and I really bought in to the idea that I was biologically cut out for some things, and not others. To this day, I am still not a fan of math; but, I’ll never really know if it’s because I lacked the confidence and ability to really try, or because I was discouraged from it?
How many of us fail to take risks, risks that could be in our own best interest, because we lack faith in ourselves or because others tell us to accept the status quo because what we have is the best we could ever expect or because we shouldn’t want for more?
I suspect that there are actually a large number of people who do not follow their dreams, are too timid to take a leap, or who allow others to deflate their sense of self-worth.
A lot of this is fear. We fear what we don’t know, and we naturally shy away from painful experiences.
I know I was afraid to divorce. I was afraid of letting down my family. I was afraid of breaking a major commitment. I was afraid of not being able to succeed without my spouse. I was afraid of what divorce would do to my children.
I was afraid that I would be giving up the best that I deserved for a situation that might be worse!
Was any other marriage more satisfying than mine?
Could I support my kids on my own?
Would anyone else ever love me again?
Did I deserve to be happy if I broke up my home?
Was I deluding myself to think I really could be happier?
Did I have room to complain about being neglected and ignored by my husband when he didn’t actually beat me?
<Insert sarcasm>I have learned that I can always count on my family to inspire and build me up when things are down.
I told my mom that my marriage was in trouble, and she told me that I was nearing 40, overweight, and with two kids; so, what made me think I could ever expect any better? Who else would ever love or want me? What did I think I could achieve by leaving him?
I would have taken a serious talking to about the virtues of trying hard to work on and save a marriage. Her beat down of my self-worth cost me more time in my miserable marriage as I tried to talk myself into another 50 years of hating my existence and being alone. I just needed to be a good girl and accept my consolation prize of a marriage that made me feel dead inside because my only real function was to be someone’s domestic servant.
I wanted someone to laugh with, share my life with, respect me, talk to me, value my opinions, and recognize my existence!
If I couldn’t find these qualities in another actual human being, I was pretty sure that I could do a better job of meeting my needs than my ex could; but, I was certain that I could never find the strength to do this while suffocated under his dead weight.
I chose the risky road. I blazed trails to seek the life I believe I deserve. I chose to risk my own safety and sanity to set an example for my children that they should be willing to take a risk in their lives if it means achieving what they need out of life!
I am careful to make sure that they know that it takes as many guts to stand your ground and fight for something worth fighting for as it does to run for your life! Each of us has to weigh the factors affecting our life because only we know what is best for our us.
I have learned, and I hope my children will also from my example, that the path we want to be on isn’t always the easy path. Sometimes we have to machete through poisonous, thorny vines covered in snakes and stinging insects while knee deep in mud with a one-hundred pound pack on our backs to clear the path to our destiny. Many times, we will become discouraged and want to give up. We won’t believe in ourselves, and we will take to heart what the naysayers whisper in our ears.
Will it be worth it in the end?
Quite honestly, we’ll never really know until we get there; but, we’ll have one heck of an adventure in the process, and at least an interesting story to tell! Nothing worth having comes without sacrifice and elbow grease, whether it’s the marriage we try to save, or ourselves that we try to save from the marriage!
No matter what we decide, we can never once buy in to the lies we tell ourselves about not being worthy of love or happiness, and never let anyone else tell you that, either! If the way another treats you or the feeling you have in your heart tells you that something’s not right, you owe it to yourself to at least listen to what your heart’s trying to tell you, and to examine what’s wrong in your life.
We can’t expect anyone else in this life to cross mountains and fight through raging rivers for us if we won’t at least attempt to do as much for ourselves! You may have to save yourself!
Do you believe in yourself?
Are you worth happiness?
Well, then, no matter what your life looks like now or who you are with, figure out what it is that will help you to find your happiness, and start blazing your trail!