I am Invincible

There is no better day than today, the first day of my 49th year, to share another piece of my story, the piece that reveals how the darkness of my past has manifested into the woman I am today, a woman who — while still scared sometimes, often vulnerable, and always honest — is at the heart invincible.

Today I have never felt so confident or comfortable with how I feel on the inside and how I look on the outside, and it was only through my deep suffering of the past that I was able to arrive at this place, along with a good dose of truth and perspective that I wanted to share with all of you women out there who — like I once did — have felt less worthy or beautiful as the years go by.

This is for you…

In 2011 I was 43 years old and living in a place that grew darker by the day. Although I was in great physical shape, was a certified holistic health coach with my own private practice, a ballroom dancer and teacher, well known in our small community, lived in a giant house and just watched the oldest of my three boys go off to college, I had never felt more emotionally beaten or unworthy due to a marriage full of gaslighting, lies, and manipulation at the hands of a master Narcissist. I witnessed a cruelty from the one I had given my life over to and loved beyond measure that increased as the days and years went by, to no one’s knowledge but my own.

Though I was at that point well accustomed to the flirtations he had with other women, some who were only young girls like our babysitters or my son’s school friends and which left me feeling dirty and embarrassed, I still lived in that bubble of hope that his actions were harmless (even though they harmed me) and life as I knew it would not come crashing down. I had learned to steel myself over the years against his behavior and become “less sensitive” to his flagrant attempts to charm any woman within a ten-foot distance no matter her age or marital status (sometimes the husband would join me in our uncomfortable silence as we watched our spouses flirt and giggle their way through the moment).

At that point after so many years I had become numb anyway so it would have had to be a titanic-sized iceberg that could somehow shake me out of my emotional coma. Considering the delicate state I existed within at the time, it would have been enough to finish me off with just the truth of the one I loved being unfaithful even one time. As anyone knows who’s been cheated on, it’s a short distance from discovery to self-blame: Was I not enough? Was she more? Where did I fail? How did she succeed? These questions alone could have been the final push off the edge I stood on already being a woman in her early forties who — according to the man I loved — was growing less attractive by the day.

If I thought the pain of cheating would have been impossible to bear, nothing could have prepared my aging face and body and heart when I learned the whole truth, a truth that revealed his attraction to a group of teenage girls visiting our town for the summer, and his acting on that attraction in a most exploitive and sickening way (correction: one of them was twenty so in his words she “wasn’t a teenager” — and they were all of “legal” age).

As any former teenage girl who liked to party knows: there was always that creepy old guy who would hang out, buy the beer, and overstay his welcome. We all knew that guy. We all were creeped out by that guy.

But as it turned out: I married that guy.

This sent me into a downward spiral that took me a year to bring myself out of, because how could I compete with nineteen and twenty-year-old girls? My ass wasn’t tight anymore, my stomach wasn’t flat because I’d had three babies, my “fun factor” had all but disappeared because of the stress of living in an abusive relationship. In addition, I couldn’t manage a physical attraction any longer because in the wake of his cruelty I had begun to find him immensely unattractive to the point where my skin crawled whenever he touched me.

Plus now I had wrinkles, even my knuckles had wrinkles, even my wrinkles had wrinkles, not to mention how I could at that point irrigate a field with the lines on my forehead. And let’s not even talk about those dark circles under my eyes that gave away my years of tears and sleepless nights. In short, I felt like the shriveled up prune compared to the grapes of youth that the man I loved now had an appetite for.

It was then I started on a path even further into the darkness as the truth unfolded before me and I focused solely on “me versus young girl,” unable to stop the vicious and merciless voices in my head that told me I was just too old and had nothing left to offer.

But then an amazing thing happened: just when I was nearly swallowed up by the pain, just when the tiny speck of light of hope nearly disappeared completely, just when my tender heart couldn’t take another new detail of his endless bad behavior, the light of truth shined down as bright as can be on my soul and saved my life. And the truth was that this “competition” was actually not a competition at all. I didn’t need to compete. There was no sense to it.

Because I had already won. And the prize was my freedom from a life of suffering and pain.

From the moment I found out about what would temporarily break my heart, I had been focusing on the wrong person. This wasn’t about me. This wasn’t about another girl, no matter how young or pretty she was.

This was about the revelation of truth that showed me in fine detail who I was married to. His actions had nothing to do with me. His behavior wasn’t in response to any faults, defects, or imperfections of mine. I hadn’t failed where young girls had succeeded. The only thing I was guilty of was loving myself so little that I based my worth on how I was treated/mistreated by the one I loved.

Here’s the thing: Once I realized that my worth did not diminish in comparison to a younger version of myself (because let’s face it, we were all nineteen once, though most of us kept clear of the creepy old guys at parties), and that who I was at age 43 or today at 49 did not in any way depend on what others saw in me, life as I knew it opened up its beautiful arms and embraced me with a love I’d never known before.

And I wouldn’t change a thing. And I wouldn’t take a day back. Because this is what has brought me here to this day when I can write this post and share my story without an ounce of emotional pain or baggage, since it was this very pain that now makes me untouchable to the past and to what has happened to me. I am a warrior in every sense of the word. And my armor is my truth, which no one will ever again be able to breach.

Though our society says otherwise, I’m here to tell you the absolute unarguable truth, ladies: The older we get, the wiser and stronger and braver and bolder and more beautiful we become. And if you’re around anyone who’s telling you otherwise, it’s time to drink a big ol’ cup of that perspective and take that focus off yourself and your perceived faults and imperfections and shine that light of blame on the one who really deserves it. And then jump on that unicorn and ride your own damn self into the sunset where the rest of us badass warrior women will be waiting for you.

I am 49 years old today. I am wise. I am strong. I am honest, brave, passionate, kind, sensitive, unique, brilliant, and beautiful.

And I am invincible.

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