Recently I decided to research my family history. I have been able to go all the way back to the 1600s in Europe, and I must say it’s been a fascinating journey. What struck me was this.
She Blazed a Trail For Victims of Abuse
She was the first and only woman in her town to say enough! And she left him. As I think about this, I realize that she was a woman who, at the turn of the century, had the courage to leave with so many children and no societal support. It must have been so difficult, not to mention terrifying. But she was a Badass and was not going to look back.
As I look at the documents and names of the men and women whom her husband, my great-grandfather came from, I wonder if they, too, were abusive and if that is where it all started. I’ll never know the answer. But I know that this brave woman stopped the lineage of abuse by being courageous and choosing a new and better future for herself, her children, and everyone that was to follow.
She was the head of the household at a time in the world when women had no rights. And her children did go on and prosper because of her decision. They went on to be newspaper publishers, car dealership owners, farmers, doctors, and just good citizens of the world. All because of her strength and belief in herself. It all started there.
My Story is Different
But I think my strength to cope was well instilled inside of me because of the example of my great-grandmother. My husband left me for another woman when my two children were under the age of 4 years old. Though I never knew my great-grandmother, whose name was Elizabeth, I know that the strength she showed my grandmother and the strength my grandmother showed my mother made its way down to me.
I am grateful. I picked myself up and just kept moving forward. I bought a house by myself to make a home for my family and just dug in to handle my new responsibilities. And like Elizabeth, it was difficult, and I was indeed terrified. But, like her, it wasn’t enough to stop me from moving forward.
I became head of my household four weeks after my second child was born. A shock, yes. But unbeknownst to me, I was fortified to handle it.
We Survived, We Conquered
As I continued down that rabbit hole of researching ancestors and opening more and more information, I saw how alone Elizabeth and I stood. Every man in my lineage was noted as head of household. But she and I carried different titles than all the other women on the tree, and we were now bonded in an unbreakable way. Two strong women stand proudly as the head of their respective households. We survived. We conquered. We gave our children everything we had in us and forged a new and better future for them.
Ironically, Elizabeth became a divorced single mother at the turn of the century, around 1900. I became a divorced single mother in 2000. One hundred years after she decided to hold her head high and move on to a better life, her great-granddaughter had to do the same. And though there have been many challenges, it has turned out to be a good life. Elizabeth ended the lineage of abuse in my family. And I benefitted from that lone decision.
Elizabeth is my hero and I thank her for instilling the strength in me to not just survive divorce but to thrive as the woman I was meant to be. She is a hero to all the women in my family now. If my great-grandmother Elizabeth could find the courage and belief in herself to leave an abusive marriage at a time when women were solely identified as valuable only through a husband, well, I believe I can conquer anything too. And I will honor her by making sure that my daughter, as well as my son, know they too can conquer anything they know and feel to be their calling. It’s in their genes, thanks to my great-grandmother Elizabeth.
Maybe she can inspire other women who are reading this too!
The world is at your fingertips, and Elizabeth has helped to blaze the trail for all of us to get out there and believe in ourselves too! Now get out there and be your own Badass!