I became an empowered woman, thanks to my husband.
One of my most vivid memories as a small child is the look of fear in my father’s eyes. I was upset my mother left, inconsolable, bawling. His face at that moment is seared into my memory. It was very stern, a mix of concern, fear, worry, and anger. The vertical creases between his eyebrows deepening while he spoke. I was standing in the dining room of my childhood home looking out at her Blazer to pull away. He was on his knees in front of me, completely lost with what to do with this crying girl-child.
He held me by the shoulders, lightly shook me and half shouted:
“You’re my little Irish girl, and Irish girls don’t cry!”
I repeatedly apologized through the sobbing.
As a child, I spent a lot of time in a garage. This was partially because if I wanted to know my father, getting dirty in the garage was how I could. I learned a lot more about a carburetor than I did about anything traditionally “female”. Maybe it was to earn his love, but I pursued mastering “masculine” things.
This was my father’s version of a “Boy Named Sue” … I was told I didn’t belong in the man’s world but was expected to be capable of doing so.
He was hard and unrelenting.
I think it was because he knew how hard and mean the world would be and he thought that if he wasn’t tough, I wouldn’t know how to “deal” in the real world. I am very grateful for the grit that was instilled in me as a child. However, I felt often that I was wrong, and small, and weak. I was left hugely insecure. Constantly seeking acceptance, by the time I was a teenager I was just mad, and hurt, and lost.
When I entered my 20’s I had a terribly large chip on my shoulder, thinking I could force my place in the world. I thought that I had to conquer every experience and person, like I was Genghis Khan, to be successful. I drank whiskey with my beer, and -quite literally- tried to fight boys. I spit on the floor, smoked Marlboro’s, and swore as if it gave me more credibility to do so… I challenged anyone that I came across. I refused to show weakness and thought I could take a knock on the chin with the best of them. The worst of it was; I didn’t even know it wasn’t authentic. It wasn’t me. It was an act to earn one man’s love. I had no idea who I was.
Throughout my 20’s I had this sense that I needed to have life completely figured out by the time I was 30. I needed to win this race and only I was running. I applied a tremendous amount of pressure on myself. I often worried that I would be found out as an imposter, so I pushed harder. I pushed and pushed, and frequently reminded myself that I needed to keep working hard, harder, the hardest. It was almost as if the ‘THREE-OH’ was some end-all-be-all deadline. If I wanted to get anything done, I would have to do it before then. What did I think? That all the growth and self-improvement would stop? That I’d never learn anything new and it would all be a downhill slide from there?
When I looked at those years as a whole, as objectively as a person can self-reflect, I finally came to it. There was one thing that was paramount to my life.
I married Taylor.
Hands down there is nothing in this world I value more, or am more proud of than my marriage.
Taylor is my knight in shining armor, weirdo-beardo. My life would not be possible without that amazing, faithful, loyal, honest, loving man.
Taylor saved me from myself. He saw that I kept myself small, locked in my own prison of fierce anger and resentment and understood my need to prove everyone that I was capable, and right, and strong. Once I finally let my guard down with Taylor he became my absolute champion.
I’ll never forget the day when I was feeling crushed by the exceptional stress he said to me:
“Would you quit yelling and just cry.”
That showed me that I could trust him with knowing me, understanding my needs, and would not belittle me for my emotion. I could rest in this man’s protection. It was a transformational moment in my life. I am eternally grateful for it. His love unlocked my prison door and then he stood in strength for me while he waited for me to walk through the threshold on my own strength.
Since that moment I started to embrace the idea that I could be my true self. I was supported in every breath and action by him. Taylor was always telling me to not hold back and to do my best. He taught me needing to cry doesn’t make me a woman, it makes me human. He would stand beside me and encourage me to strength and action. My personal strength was good for us both, not emasculating to him. In private, he would hold me through every single moment of weakness for as long as I needed. He has never failed me. It was so freeing. Taylor empowered me to do anything I ever wanted.
With this empowerment, I took on all sorts of things I would have never dreamed to do before. I’ll save those for another time. ( becoming a coach is one)