Photo: Blake Lisk

4 Difficult But Necessary Resolutions of a Self-Made Woman

I watched her cry, and hid myself under the covers. Maybe if the world couldn’t see me, the hurt wouldn’t be able to get in.

That was the idea anyways.

Unfortunately, hurt is fluid, it seeps in through any available crack.

Even Mom’s quilts couldn’t keep the hurt out. But I didn’t know that yet.

I would learn.

Looking back, I know Dad made a mistake. He loves us, he loves my mom and has proved that time again over the years, but he messed up.

He got caught up in an idea another woman was feeding him. The idea that his life would be better with her, not with us.

And for a moment he went along with it.

The pain of that infidelity was deep, and I watched my mom unravel. Without realizing it, that moment would shape the woman I was becoming, but at the time I was just a little girl watching her family fall apart.

Dad realized his mistake, and came back. Mom had to make the impossible choice to keep her family together or tell him to leave. She chose to have him back in the end.

As I got older, I resolved to never be vulnerable to fickle love. I never wanted to have my back against the wall if a man decided he didn’t love me anymore.

Eventually I suffered through my own cheaters, and felt the blow of love being taken away against my will. This further hardened my resolve. I would guard my heart, I would build a concrete wall around myself and always have my eyes on the exit.

Years ticked by, I fell in love and stumbled into a toxic relationship, infused with too much vodka and late night fights. I would be thrown against a wall, I would be choked, I would feel what it was like to punch someone. I would leave.

My heart crumbled into pieces, scattered in the dust. I loved and lost again. I never had what I thought I did, and the shock of that revelation forced me to build a castle against the hurt.

I resolved to never be blindsided like that again. I would build myself so high up that no one would be able to reach me.

But you know by now, the prettiest scenes spill out from broken things.

I had to break down my walls to get to where I am today. With the size of my castle, and how far away I was from letting someone in, I figured the man that would break through would have to be the loudest sledgehammer-yielding man in the world.

Turns out that wasn’t the case.

The man that helped me break down my walls is a man of few words. He is unassuming and loves people deeply, but quietly.

He is a gentle man that gave me the space and time to wield my own sledgehammer.

That’s how it always happens you know.

We break down our own walls. We pick up the sledgehammer when we create the space and time in our lives to do so.

So I started chipping away at the fear and the trauma that had calcified around me, and my resolve changed. In the years I’ve spent breaking down my walls, I realized all I’ve ever wanted to be is a self-made woman.

But in order to be self-made, my resolve had to change. I had to make promises to myself and do the difficult thing of holding up those promises every day.

1. I Resolve to Be Available

Instead of a woman so guarded no one could reach her.

When I broke down my walls, I decided I didn’t want to be separate from those that could hurt me. I wanted to be close to them and to risk the chance of heartbreak even for a moment of feeling the closeness of love and understanding.

It was when I allowed people in that I was able to hold space to break down my barriers. It was only then that I was able to start becoming the self-made woman I’ve always dreamed of.

I went from thinking I needed to have a career and make my own money as a way to protect myself from the chance of being left behind. It turns out I just want to help other women become self-made too.

By being available to others, by holding space, I become stronger because of the people I let in.

2. I Resolve to Be Vulnerable

Instead of guarded

Before, in the tower of my concrete castle, I faked strength. I acted like the world didn’t affect me, that I didn’t care, I was a passive-aggressive sasspot with black nail polish.

But as I broke down my walls, I realized the only way to truly help people was to show them my own heartbreak, to hold myself open so that others could learn to do the same.

By showing my scars and my hurt, I am holding space for other people to do the same, I am holding space and handing other people the sledgehammer to start breaking down their own walls.

3. I Resolve to Own My Story

Instead of hiding it

In order to become a self-made woman, full of grit and grace, I had to own every piece of my story. All the ugly parts, all the things I felt were too much for the world, all the wrong I’ve done.

I had to hold them along with every other piece of my story.

By doing so, I made myself stronger. There is no part of my story that people can hold over my head. I own it.

I have screwed up. I will screw up again. But you know what?

I am human, and I give myself the grace of that imperfection along with the strength to do better every day.

4. I Resolve to Tell My Truth

Instead of staying quiet

The most difficult part of becoming a self-made woman is telling your truth.

We have been taught to stay small, to shrink our bodies, to keep quiet and not make people uncomfortable with our emotions, our truth, and our hearts.

We rally against our bodies, force ourselves to starve and hurt in order to shrink down. We rally against our emotions because we might make other people uncomfortable.

We do this every time we say: “nothing is wrong, I’m fine.”

We squelch our needs and put out the flame of desire. A needy woman isn’t a loved woman, after all (at least that’s the lie we’re told).

I resolved that in order to be my best self, to become a self-made woman, I could no longer stay quiet when things hurt me. I will not act unaffected, or passive aggressive and stuff down my pain.

I am going to speak up when people hurt me. I am going to allow myself to crave, and want and need, and give myself permission to care. I am going to stretch myself and fit whatever shape I need to, and if doing so means other people will retreat away from me, that’s fine.

They weren’t meant for me anyways.

I resolve that I will never sacrifice my truth for anyone else.

Conclusion

Becoming a self-made woman is a process, it is not a destination.

We are constantly becoming and unbecoming, forever and ever, amen.

I want to hold space for you as you become self-made too. I want to help you wield your sledgehammer and start breaking down your walls.

We are all just holding space for each other. This is me holding yours.

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