Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Strong Woman’ Category

Wounds

Most all of us have suffered our share of wounds. So many times we try to ignore them, act like they are woundnon-existent. Pesha Gertler offers a fresh approach to wounds and to their sacredness. Instead of trying to ignore the wounds, get over them or get depressed because of them, this poem suggests we honor them as sacred. Read her poetry below and spend time thinking about your wounds from a new perspective.

The Healing Time
By Pesha Gertler

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy.

Danceof the Rubber Band

Relationships function much like what I call the Dance of the Rubber Band.  A healthy tension must be kept on the relationship for it to be effective. Much like tension must be kept on a rubber band for it to be effective and to fulfill its purpose.

Think about it. A rubber band is of benefit only when it holds tension around two or more things.

When I conducted private practice couples counseling, often I used a rubber band to demonstrate.

Put one end of the band around your left hand and the other end around your right.

If it is loose, pull both hands back and see what happens. Yes, the tension on the band grows more uncomfortable the further you pull.

Because of this discomfort, you move your left hand closer to the right. The tension eases. The band becomes slack and useless, so the right hand moves back further to regain the tension. And the left hand, uncomfortable, moves in on the right again.

So begins the Dance of the Rubber Band.

For the rubber band to be of any use, tension must be placed on both ends of it. But if it is pulled too tightly, the tension becomes uncomfortable and with increasing pressure, will break. To keep that from happening, often one hand moves forward to ease the tension and the other hand moves away–hence the dance.

But if both hands continue to pull back, what will happen? Yes, the band will eventually break.

Now, take this same example and use it as a metaphor in your relationships. This is where the Dance of the Rubber Band takes life. What happens when, say, a wife has control issues and tries to order the husband to her bidding. He jumps every time she gives an order, and the tension holds. But after a while, say the husband grows and learns

Then, say the husband  one partner moves in too close to the other? Yep, the other becomes uncomfortable and takes a step back.

If, as a result, the first person steps forward again and the second person moves even further back.

On the other side of this metaphor, what happens when a person invades our space? Yep, again. We step back. If both people step back too far, the band (bond) is likely to break. And if they both step in too close to each other, the band–the comfortable, useful tension (purpose) of the band exists no longer.

When I did couples therapy several years ago, I often had each spouse wear a rubber band around their wrists as a reminder of the dance. Keep enough tension on the band to make it useful, but when one person steps away, don’t go forward. Instead, take a step back, and often the other will take a step forward.

The Dance of the Rubber Band.

What about you? Have you noticed how, if you step forward, your partner steps back? Have you been tempted to step in even closer? Keep the tension on your relationships

. Practice the dance and see if it improves your relationship.

Trust

Wow. 2012 is gone. My one word goal for 2013 is TRUST. We look forward to a new year, and then, when it’s gone, we’re ready to let it go and move on. 2012 has been a tough year for many of us. However, some really neat things have happened that gives us hope and excitement for the year ahead.

Dolly Parton is quoted to have said: Find out who you are and do it on purpose.

This year, several in my family have found out who they are, what they stand for, and what they don’t stand for. As a result, they are diligently working to BE who they are on purpose.

I wonder how many actions women take, or beliefs we advocate simply because someone else thinks we should, or tells us we ‘ought to’ or ‘ought not to.’

Many years ago I realized how hard I worked to ‘make what I wanted to happen, happen.’ Created stress galore. Reminds me of the C & W song, “If love don’t come easy, you gotta let it go.” But I wasn’t very good at letting it go. I wanted CONTROL.

So I made the decision to trust the process, and trust perfect timing. Sounds good, huh? Well, that works pretty good when things are going the way I want them to go. But not so well when they don’t.

Lately, I find myself struggling with it all. I know what I want, and what I think should happen and by golly, I’m going to make it happen, or know the reason why! I agonize, I worry, I get anxious–maybe even a little controlling (?)

Okay, so here goes my New Year’s Resolution. TRUST PERFECT TIMING. Trust that what happens is what is best for me and those I love–and then rest in that knowledge.

How about you? Is it difficult for you to trust perfect timing and let go of trying to control everything? If so, how do you handle it? How do you learn to trust that life events?

Angel Sometimes

“Writing Strong Women” exists to encourage and support positive social change for women by creating mutual empowerment. I hope you find something helpful on your journey. I encourage you to forward it to other women. ~~Sylvia Dickey Smith

__________________________________________________

Helen Ginger and I have been friends for several years, although we don’t seem to find the time to get together nearly as much as we’d both like. Time gets away from all of us. Helen is a strong woman. I admire and respect anything she touches. She has been a tremendous support through my writing efforts and gives of her time most freely. I knew she had been writing the novel, Angel Sometimes. I am thrilled the book is now complete and available for purchase.

Since she is such a strong woman, I had no doubt her female lead would be strong–or would get there before the story ended. I am delighted to welcome her as our guest blogger today. At the bottom of the post there are links to her website, and how to purchase her book should you so desire.

Here’s Helen

Angel started talking to me years ago. I dreamed about her, couldn’t get her to leave me alone. So I began to write the story of this 12-year-old girl. Around that same time, the Brown Foundation awarded me a fellowship to spend four weeks at the Vermont Studio Center. By the time those weeks were up, I’d written almost a full book … of her as a twelve year old. I knew her. I knew what happened to change her life. I knew why she’d been abandoned on the streets 800 miles from her home. I also knew it wasn’t her full story.

So I began to write her as a 22-year-old. Because of all that I had already written, I knew Angel. She was strong. She cared and looked out for others. Angel was a survivor. Even when she was very close to dying, she didn’t give up.

People have asked if her life is mine. This is her story, her truth, although there are bits and pieces of me in her. Angel’s childhood home was mine when I was a child, including the drive-in theater and a mother who worked as the projectionist. The woods where Angel played as a child are from my childhood. She swims as a mermaid as did I for three years in college. While the setting of her childhood is similar to mine, her life is very different.

Angel was on the streets of South Padre when she was 12. At 16, she hitchhiked to Austin. After months on the streets there, she found a Help Wanted sign in the window of a bar/restaurant. She asked the owner to hire her. He told her she was too young. Every morning she waited for him to open. Every day he said no. On her 17th birthday, he said yes. He had no idea how close she was to dying.

Angel may have told her story to me, but she speaks to everyone. You can survive when bad or even horrific things happen to you. You can help yourself by helping others. The old saying is true. Put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

Angel has taken a break in talking to me. But I’m leaving the door open and lights on, hoping she’ll come by to tell me what happens next.

***********

Helen Ginger was born in Georgia, but at age ten, her mother moved the family to Texas. Helen’s been there ever since, laying down roots and picking up stories. “My mother moved around a lot, from Austin to Luling to Lockhart to places in-between. One time while in college, I drove home to see her and my younger sister. They were gone. No forwarding address. People are aghast when I tell that story, but it wasn’t a big deal. I eventually found her.” As far back as Helen can remember, she’s always written: angst-filled stories in high school; short stories and poetry in college; mysteries, mainstream fiction, even technical books, three of which have been published by TSTC Publishing. Helen lives in a small town just outside of Austin, Texas. From her office window, she sees birds, deer, squirrels, road runners, foxes, cats, and rabbits. You can find Helen on Amazon, her blog, website, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You can also sign up for her weekly newsletter for writers, which has been going out for 13 years.

A Writer Remembers the Journey

Our guest author today is Pamela Cable, author of Televenge. See below for her bio.

A Writer Remembers the Journey

Swarms of finches, wrens, and other tiny birds peck and hunt for food at feeders that hang outside my kitchen window. Even when I forget to fill the feeders, the birds arrive each morning, hoping to discover their next meal. These tiny birds never give up. They are constant, vigilant, driven. Despite the odds and possible dangers, the birds return every day.

Writers are like tiny birds. We beat our heads against one roadblock after another, writing against enormous odds, hoping and believing our next book will land in the laps of readers and on bestseller lists across the country. But even after decades into our career, we discover we must sometimes recall what made us write in the first place and the courage it took.

My granddaddy was a coal miner, but my father escaped the mines, went to college and moved his family to Ohio to work for the rubber companies. I spent every weekend as a child, traveling back to the West Virginia Mountains. My memories of my childhood run as deep as the Appalachian creeks and swimming holes I swam in as a child. My career as a writer was born in the dust laden coal towns of the early 60s.

For me, it is within sanctuaries of brick and mortar, places of clapboard and revival tents transcending time and space, that characters hang ripe and ready for picking.

From the primitive church services of mountain clans to the baptisms and sacraments of robed priests in great cathedrals and monasteries. From hardworking men and women who testify in the run-down churches of coal camps to the charismatic high-dollar high-tech evangelicals in televised megachurches of today. Therein lie stories of unspeakable conflict, the forbidden, and often, the unexplained.

As a writer, it is my desire to transport a reader’s mind—but my deepest passion is to pierce a reader’s heart. The topic of faith, for me, has a way of doing that like nothing else.

My mother says I cut my teeth on the back of a church pew. I grew up in revival tents, tabernacles, and eventually in grand cathedrals with TV cameras rolling. In the early days, revivals were as exciting as the carnival coming to town and evangelists were royalty. I experienced a world from the sublime to the bizarre. It caused me to weave religion, spirituality, and the mysterious into my stories. Stories that hint to an ancient bridge where the real and the supernatural meet.

Many of my stories are based on truth, shreds of truth, people I’ve known, places I’ve been, and of course history plays a great part in some stories, like Coal Dust On My Feet; a love story set amidst the longest and most violent coal strike in the history of our country. It is truth and fiction.

Mother was a skilled storyteller without knowing it. All I wanted to do when I grew up was duplicate her life. I loved her southern accent and heritage and I felt neither imprisoned nor put off by it. She was a strong woman. But the most precious gift she gave me was a love for the written world, be it the word of God or of Mother Goose. Mom was my inspiration, and one day I picked up a pencil in the sixth grade and wrote my first story. I haven’t stopped since. The next forty years played into my storytelling, and after surviving life’s heartaches and hardships, it gave me plenty to write about.

A writer’s life is a solitary life. We hope we possess raw talent, unique originality, and gut emotional appeal. We raise the stakes on each and every page and hope, and pray, and believe that some day we’re blessed a bit of luck.

Is it worth the struggle? You bet it is. All you need is the courage of a tiny bird.

Remember when you tackled that first story, essay, article, poem? That was courage. Courage is not confidence, nor the opposite of meekness. It’s feeling a measure of confidence, and then acting on those feelings. It’s a quality of spirit that enables you to face the moment, whatever comes, and keep going.

Courage allows you to see, hear, smell, and taste things as they really are. Courage makes you face facts, unfiltered by rosy daydreams. Courage frees you to be creative. It pushes you to prepare for the unknown without obsessing over it. To be open to what may come.

A writer can’t be open to new ideas if dazed and confused by fear. Courage enables you to be prepared and wide awake in every situation.

There were times in my youth I didn’t write because I was afraid of failing. I didn’t prepare for success because I was afraid it might happen. I didn’t look, really look, into my past because I was afraid of what I might find. As I grow older, I don’t give myself those options. Not anymore.

Fear is passive-aggressive. It’s the lazy writer’s excuse for not moving forward. It’s a great immobilizer, an avoidance technique. Fear puts the focus on what we might encounter, distracts us from what’s actually there. Courage empowers a writer to pay attention.

In the end, a writer can do without a lot of things. Remembering your journey is not one of them. Courage is the other.

More about Pamela King Cable: Pamela King Cable was born a coal miner’s granddaughter and raised by a tribe of wild Pentecostals and storytellers. She is an award-winning, multi-published author who loves to write about religion and spirituality with paranormal twists she unearths from her family’s history. Married to a megachurch ministry team member as a young adult, she attended years of megachurch services. Pamela studied creative writing at The University of Akron and Kent State University. She has taught at many writing conferences, and speaks to book clubs, women’s groups, national and local civic organizations, and at churches across the country. Nearly a decade in the writing, Televenge is her debut novel. She lives in Ohio with her husband, Michael, and is currently working on her next novel.

Click here to view the book trailer.
Televenge

the Strongest Woman I Have Ever Known

In Honor of Marynelle “Bobbie” Crawford, the Strongest Woman I’ve Ever Known

By Jessica Sinn

You know the expression, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”? Those words really ring true now that my 95-year-old grandma, Marynelle “Bobbie” Crawford, has passed on to the great beyond.

As I was writing her eulogy, I cursed myself for not taking the time to really get to know the most accomplished woman in my entire family.  Sure, I know she served in the U.S. Marine Corps, excelled in school, and grew up during the Great Depression. But sadly, I only know the Cliffs Notes version of her life.

If you think about it, how well do we really know our grandparents other than the fact that they spoiled us rotten with ice cream, toys and hugs when we were kiddos? As a bratty little kid, I only saw grandma as a white-haired sweet old lady who liked to drone on and on about Billy Graham specials and the benefits of milk and prune juice. And when she did talk about her past I would roll my eyes and say, “Oh boy, here we go again.” I was too busy wishing I could be flirting with boys at the mall than sitting in this old lady’s house listening to her talk about the hardships of her youth.

Now that she’s gone, I would give anything – even my precious Ford Taurus – to spend one more day with this woman and learn more about her epic journey – from growing up on a dairy farm to working her way up the Marine Corps totem pole during World War II.

It wasn’t until I began writing her eulogy when the sharp pang of loss hit me like a sucker punch to the gut. A huge flash of regret waved over me when I realized that I was just now learning about this wonderfully brave, complex, strong woman.

You see, unlike the Facebook generation, grandma didn’t like to talk about herself.  Although she often reminisced about the Great Depression, She didn’t gloat about her accomplishments – and trust me, there were many! Here’s what I learned as I gathered details about grandma’s life:

Born on May 4, 1917, Marynelle Thompson, grew up on her grandfather’s dairy farm in a small Southern patch of Bryant, Arkansas. She spent most of her childhood in Little Rock, where she graduated from Central High School with honors.

After high school she received secretarial training and worked for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until she and her best girlfriend joined the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve after the start of World War II. She was assigned an office staff position at Marine Corps Headquarters in Quantico, Va.

Among her many important duties, she provided clerical support for the Manhattan Project. Proud to serve her country, she quickly worked her way up through the ranks and was promoted to corporal, not an easy task for a woman Marine back in the World War II era.

In her later years, she was fond of saying she had the equivalent of a college degree in military records. During her enlistment, she fell in love with Sgt. Donald Hughes Crawford, the boss of her best girlfriend. Shortly thereafter, they married in a quiet ceremony in 1944. Resplendent in their Marine Corps uniforms, their wedding was intimate and understated. But even if she had all the money in the world, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

After grandpa swept her off her feet, the rest was history. They made a home in sunny Carlsbad, California where they lived a quiet happy life by the beach. Although grandpa struck it big in the stock market, they lived very frugally and never took even the simplest creature comfort – milk especially – for granted. As a kid, I always groused over their penny-pinching ways. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t indulge in fancy cars and designer clothes. Boy did I have a lot to learn.

Although it pained her to spend money on “frivolous” things like clothes and household appliances, she put my sister and I through college – no questions asked. She made provisions for our future and gave us a place to call home after our mother split. In addition to the much-needed financial assistance, she gave us the confidence we needed to chase our dreams. Considering our shaky upbringing, I shudder to think where we would be today without grandma’s love and support.

She had a way of making anyone feel special. She never let a conversation go by without telling me how proud she was of me. She may have sounded like a broken record, but my heart warmed over whenever I heard those words. Growing up, my mother always laughed at my future plans and told me “you can’t,” but grandma always made me believe the opposite. With her encouragement and eternal optimism, I knew I had it in me to finish college and write for a living.

So as I sit here stewing about the things I could’ve, should’ve done while she was alive, I realize the best way to get through my grief is to honor her legacy. No matter what hardships come my way, I need to invoke my inner Marynelle Crawford and pick myself up by my bootstraps whenever the going gets tough. Even in her darkest days, she would somehow find a happy place. Let’s face it, nursing home life is grim. But she found a way to enjoy it by occupying her free time with long walks around the rest home. Rather than zoning out in front of the TV, she’d strap on her walking shoes and go to town on that walker. The staff was so impressed by her walking routine, they monitored her steps with a pedometer and found that she clocked one to three thousand steps per day!

As you can see, those are some big shoes to fill, but I am determined to make her proud. Rather than focusing on material things, negative thinking, and trivial drama, I need to remember the lessons grandma taught me: Be strong no matter what life throws your way; Believe in yourself in defiance of naysayers; And above all else, be kind.

Thank you grandma for all the gifts you have given me.  It’s hard accepting the fact that you’re gone, but I know you’re in a better place. Semper Fi!

 

 

Just Say It

Just Say It

The day was overcast.  I sat at my desk with the overhead light on while I wrote at my computer. My husband had gone on errands. When he came in, he walked over and flipped off  the light.

That felt offensive to me. I’d turned the light on and felt he should have checked with me before turning it off.

I tapped into my feelings about that, looked at him and said something like. I turned the light on because I wanted it on.

He said well, you don’t need it, but he flipped it back on because he realized it wasn’t his place to  turn it off on me without at least asking my permission.

To me, that was my decision to make–whether I needed it or not, and I  was able to “just say it.” because I’ve worked so hard on doing that. It doesn’t matter whether the other gets upset over it or not–that is up to them since I am not responsible for their feelings. I am responsible to claim what I need to claim and to say it without personal attack of the other.

Sometimes I think the most difficult thing to do is to bring up a topic of controversy or deep feeling. I find the best thing for me to do is to just say it–without the heat that can build up over deep emotional issues. And trust the process.

For whatever it’s worth, I have learned, and continue to learn, instead of being too fearful to just say what I need to say to another person, to listen to that inner voice AT THE TIME I feel it in my gut, my chest, my wherever. Then, instead of building up heat in order to be able to say it, I tap into that feeling, that truth, and identify it quickly, then just say it much like I’d give the weather report. Like,  say the sun is shining.

I’ve been asked what makes me  able to do that because most of us really struggle with that. I admit, that has not always been my reaction.

I do understand. Few of us can do that–say what we are feeling in a non-emtional way. It has taken me years to identify and to learn how to just say it, and say it at the moment of the interchange.

It takes tuning into your body and making a quick assessment, and then, saying just that.

In a particular job, I began to realize that a road sign would sometimes surface in my intuition, telling me to stop long enough to pay attention to that intuitive feeing, and in my haste, I had ignored it and gone on with what I was doing. Then, later, what I had ignored would come back and bite me in the butt. Such as a purchase order I approved without questioning the person further who had submitted it. Sure enough, it would get stopped by my boss and he’d send it back to me disapproved, or with questions.

So I began to pay closer attention to my intuition, I began to analyze the feeling–identify where in my body I felt it, ascribe a color to it, then understand the meaning behind the color. (I have a number of books on Colorology–another good thing to learn more about–powerful work!)

After doing that, and putting the physical location (Chakra!!!!) of the feeling in perspective, and understanding that feeling related to the color, I began to understand what my body was telling me about any given situation. Why I was reacting the way I did.

As I did that, I began to learn that if THAT is what I said, then I could describe it at the time–as if describing the weather, because it was an organic reaction. I had allowed my body to speak to me–understand the feeling, and then just say it at the moment in a non-attacking manner or tone.

You know how, when later you wished you’d said how you felt at a given situation? By learning to just say it  at the very moment of the interchange when you first feel it in your body you develop a healthier relationship with the other. And, you do it before the discomfort does physical and emotional damage.

Quickly check in with your body, identify the feeling, and then just say it.

It is amazing what our bodies will tell us–IS TELLING US–yet we stuff it down, ignore it, deny it, postpone it, and then think later–oh I wish I’d said that. This process gives me an opportunity to process all of that almost instantaneously, and the more I do it, the faster I can do it–at the very moment.

The key is learning to just say it — BEFORE the anxiety or hurt feelings build. For instance, where in your body do you feel the put downs or the criticisms another person might dish out?

What color is it? What does it feel like? A twinge, a sharp knife, like a drowning? Now, quickly give thanks for your body’s messages to you, then, just say it. For instance:

(All of this verbage below is said calmly, unemotionally, as if, “the weather has been cold today, or maybe it will rain tomorrow, or….)

Perhaps–“I feel like a child when you constantly criticize me. That is abusive. I am not a child and I will no longer be treated like one.”

This way, our message is clear, we take a stand for our selves without attacking the other person. We claim it for ourself. Then stand.

Just Say It

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defeat What it is. What it isn’t.

What is defeat and when might a woman experience it?

Defeat is not the same thing as not doing something correctly. Defeat occurs when, in the midst of a difficult task, we give up, not on the situation, but on ourselves. We quit trying.

The opposite of defeat is success. We succeed when we win the battle over ourselves. When we persist in the pursuit of our dreams, no matter the obstacles, we are winners in life, for we have won over our weaknesses.

Or until we learn to not say no.

A woman with a novel in first draft once said to me, “I’m afraid to keep going with this, trying to get published, because I fear I will fail.”

My reply? “We only fail when we stop trying to accomplish our goal. You won’t fail if you don’t let yourself. When discouragement comes,  you pick yourself up and keep working at it until you carry out your goal. That’s the only way any of us will ever be successful.”

I didn’t always follow that advice. For many years, I was a quitter. There are many projects I would start, get discourage, and stop. Only many years later would I learn the secret of success–don’t stop!

How about you? What works for you that helps you carry out you goals? How do you handle rejection or the fear of defeat?

Streets and Deep Holes

Ever stop to think about all the wrong streets you walk down and all the deep holes and cracks you fall into? Then, do you scratch and claw your way out, all while blaming someone else for your choice of streets and subsequent potholes?

Streets and deep holes, in this instance, is metaphor of  the choices we make that repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Often, these choices follow the same destructive patterns we have made throughout a lifetime.

When you get right down to it, our lives are full of lessons and wondrous opportunities to learn them. Free beings that we are (if, indeed, that’s true) we choose to walk down the same streets we’ve traveled before, and often fall into the same/similar holes. When we do so, we have another opportunity to learn that lesson again. We can choose to learn it now, or we can wait until the same lesson comes around again (and it will, I guarantee you!) giving us another opportunity to learn to make different/better choices.

I don’t know about you, but over the years, I walked down the same pothole-filled streets many times, and yes, been given another opportunity to learn the lessons I came into this world to learn–lessons about streets and deep holes. (i.e. relationships that aren’t good for me, jobs I don’t enjoy, overcommitment of my time, social groups or churches I don’t care to participate in, overly needy friends that ‘drink my blood.’

In time, I learned that these streets and deeps holes are there to teach me the same lessons, but each time I learn them at an even deeper level, until finally, I get it!

If I refrain from blaming others and take a deeper look inside, I recognize these are the same streets and deep holes (read:lessons) I’ve traveled and now I can decide not to spend all the energy it takes to avoid the potholes, but rather to choose a different street!

What about you? What streets and deep holes have you walked down over and over again, and over and over again gotten caught in the same lessons you thought you’d learned (but evidently hadn’t, else you wouldn’t get caught in them again.  What lessons keep coming around for you to learn? What does it take for you to learn them? What does it take for you to not only avoid the potholes, but choose another street to go down?

Streets and Deep Holes don’t have to control our lives!

White Knights & Pink Pigs

Our guest author today is Lindsay Frucii, a recent guest on my Blog Talk Radio program, Writing Strong Women and the author of The Pig & Me-a powerful story of her ‘knight’ and the journey of a very strong woman.

In 1989 when a personal bankruptcy robbed her family of financial security, Lindsay decided the way back to marital and family bliss was to start a business that would make gobs of money. Out of the mantra “there must be something I can do”€ and a passion for fat-laden, fudgy brownies that made it hard to zip her jeans, an idea was born: healthy brownies for the masses. In a leap of faith borne on the wings of innocence and naivete, she founded No Pudge! Foods, Inc., and began an unexpected whopper of a roller coaster ride.

Be warned, this post is a little long, so if you can’t finish it in one sitting, mark it and come back and finish. It is well worth your time.

The fairy tale is an enviable, business success story. The reality is the story of a woman who was raised hearing “You can’t” and found, to her surprise and great satisfaction, she could – and then some.

As a little girl, I always knew exactly what my life would be like when I grew up. After high school I would learn a trade and live at home until my white knight came along. You know, the tall, handsome dude on the white horse. The one who would carry me off to a big house with a white picket fence where I would be his wife and raise our children. His job would be to earn a good living and take care of me because God knows, as a woman, I wouldn’t be able to take care of myself.

When the white knight didn’t come along as planned, I was left feeling insecure and lost. On my 25th birthday, my older sister – who’d married right on cue at twenty-one and had two babies in two years – cheerfully informed me that I was officially an old maid. As I approached my 28th birthday, still single, it suddenly hit me that I was tired of waiting for that damn knight. Suddenly hit me. As in never crossed my mind before.  You know it’s almost embarrassing to write that, but it’s the God’s honest truth. I was twenty-seven and a half years old before I first thought that maybe it was time to stop waiting. Waiting for the damn knight. Waiting for someone to create a home with. Waiting for someone else to make me happy. Waiting to play the role I’d been raised to believe I’d be a failure without.

So I quit my job as a nurse, got an entry-level job in Corporate America, started making a lot more money and damn, didn’t that knight show up. He was driving a Saab Turbo instead of riding a white horse, but he was tall and handsome, had a great job, owned his own house and at 29, was still – incredibly – single.  Boo Yaa!

You’re probably thinking, “She’s a little slow, but at least she finally got it” and assuming that my knight and I married and had little knights (we did). It also makes sense you believe I’d grown enough by then that our marriage was one where we both considered me a strong and equal partner. Ah…. No.

My husband had been raised to view our roles in the same way I had and once our first son was born, we both slipped unknowingly right back into them. It turns out that roles ingrained in you since birth don’t disappear, they simply submerge, waiting to rear their ugly heads at the first sign of weakness.

I adore the role of being a mother. To this day being a mother to my two sons is, without a sliver of doubt, the role that makes me happiest. But the role of unequal wife? Not so much. The lack of equality was not an in-your-face, you-are-the-subservient-wife thing and it was never conscious on either of our parts. It was just the way it was. For me it translated into a frequent sense of discomfort – like the costume I’d been handed was too heavy, too scratchy and too confining. I wore it for fourteen years before rebelling. What can I say? I’m a slow learner…

I was forty-four when I began to tear the costume off. We were going through a difficult financial and emotional time. Not an optimal time for rebellion, but when the voice inside you finally wakes up and screams ENOUGH! – you listen.

I decided I wanted to start a business – telling myself I was doing it to help my husband and family financially. But where I saw a golden opportunity, my husband saw a money pit and the harder I pushed, the stronger his resistance. I dug in my heels, telling myself I was going to prove him wrong. But that feeling quickly became an overpowering need to prove to myself that I didn’t have to live the life that others had designed for me. As I began to evolve and grow, my marriage struggled to do the same. The process almost tore us apart, but today our relationship is stronger and happier. We are, in every sense of the word, partners.

I now know that life is too short to be wasted trying to live the life that others expect you to live. That said, I also know the feeling of terror that accompanies the beginning of rebellion and understand all too well how hard it is to break out of a role you feel super-glued into. But we all deserve to live our life. The life that brings joy and freedom and gratitude – not the one that breeds exhaustion and resentment and envy.

It’s a difficult and scary journey, but by taking it a one-small-step-at-a-time it’s far less overwhelming. And if you are stuck, it’s a journey that must be made.

I broke free one tiny step at a time. Moving forward at a slow pace but always moving towards the me I was meant to be. The journey isn’t easy – I’m still on it – but if I can do, so can you.

So you see, readers, white knights can also take the form of pink pigs.

Readers, share your own tale of strength and courage by adding your comment to the post.  Indeed, white knights come in all colors, shapes and odors!

And a special thanks to white knight Jessica Sinn at Chick Lit Cafe  for recommending Lindsay as a guest on Writing Strong Women.

 

Skip to toolbar