Work hard, play hard. You can do all the things.
Isn't that the mantra we ladies are asked to believe about life-both personally and professionally?
From a very early age I bought into this mindset and as such I knew a skillset would be needed to pave my own way through life. Dependency on the opposite sex or anyone else for that matter was not going to be an option.
Because I witnessed first hand what happened to my mom after my parent's divorce. She gave her heart and soul into loving our family, building our home, and parenting well and that was a vision both my parents embraced. She quit her job and went all in. She depended on my dad both emotionally and financially.
And then my parent's divorce happened and I watched with a heavy heart as my mom tried to enter the job market again.
But you have no skillsets, she was told.
People looked at the gaps of stagnancy on her resume with pointed eyes wondering just what she had been up to all those years.
Raising a child with all my heart and soul, she whispered back...but the world did not value her devotion And so the "nos" kept coming. And she was met with rejection after rejection.
Watching all this from afar made my heart swell with anger because of the way the world treated women and mothers. Coming from a generation of kids with lots of divorced parents, I was left feeling like there was no other option but to go, do, and be it all. And so I made the following declarations:
- Never fully depend on the resources your husband provides: emotionally and financially.
- Never count on your partner to be there through thick and thin.
- Never concede to rely on someone other than yourself.
Those were my vows.
Because what about all those "what ifs.": What if he leaves you. What if he gets sick. What if there's an unexpected loss. What will you do then?
My mind decided the following:
Always have a skillset. Always pursue doing all the things all the time.
Have a contingency plan for when the worst happens. You need a plan b. And then you need another contingency plan.
And so I set off out of college to do just that.
I wanted the money, the job, and the things the world told me would provide security for how to make lemonade when life provided some real rotten lemons.
And so the past decade has been spent chasing that kind of security and fighting dependency tooth and nail.
My heart continued to declare: I will never allow my life to depend on a man. I will hold my own. I will make my own.
But then the miscarriage happened. And I found myself curled up on the bathroom floor, with unstoppable tears, and a physical pain that was taking my breath away. I wanted to keep the door shut: literally and proverbially. John could not see me in this state. He could not see me with this much need. I could handle it on my own.
Until I couldn't.
Crying out to John for help in that moment made the list as one of the hardest things I've ever done. I had raised my white flag to him, to the world, to a heavenly Father who had been asking me to waive it for some time now. I let him see me in a state of need that I swore I would never allow.
A moment soaked in the reality that I cannot do it all.
I am limited.
A few days later there was this hideous voice I heard deep down in my heart.
Look at you. Look how dependent you are on him now. Look how disgusting you've become. He will never look at you the same. Just wait until he leaves...
And by that last statement, I knew this voice was coming from a very dark place.
I've spent the past 6 years of marriage thinking: if I just can keep doing all the things, then I will be the best version of myself, that's the key to having a great marriage. If I can just be the strong one: free of needs and reliances on my husband, that's what it means to be a strong woman, a strong wife.
But it's been in the messiest most broken moments that our marriage has been exponentially fueled in the best of ways. It has been those white flags: starting with a confession about a past life then six years later a declaration that I cannot be the wife that lives consumed with trying to keep it all together, all the time.
It has been when I have let John into the darkness, the chaos, and the moments where I've found myself flat on my face in defeat:
And as it turns out, that's where the marriage magic happens.
It's in the ugly cries. It's being 100% transparent about where you are and what you can carry. It's about asking your mate to cover your weak spots because perhaps you are in a season where you can't cover them yourself...and all this, it is okay. It is more than okay. It is what the gift of marriage and walking through life hand in hand with your mate is all about.
Pride is my achilles heel. And while I'd love to tell you all this striving to keep it together really has come from a pure place, the truth is that is a lie. Because you can have all the money in the world and still get cancer. You can have a valuable professional skillset and still not be able to get pregnant. You can be the best wife you know to be and yet find he has been unfaithful.
There are no sure things in this life.
And it is in those moments when you have a decision to make: will I live in fear or will I live in faith? Will I fight dependency or will I armor up vowing to never need or rely again?
I've fallen more in love with John over the course of walking through this loss. And if I am honest, it really does scare me. It scares me because I can hear all those what if thoughts in the back of my head. But for the record, I'm fighting damn hard to ignore them.
And so we are working out what this new place in our relationship looks like. I am working out what it means to celebrate dependency: to voice needs and embrace the help of a man I am blessed to call my husband. I am learning what it means to trust and love his steady strength and receive his love and support without the but you have to have a contingency plan mindset.
Because ladies, we cannot do and be it all. We are equal and just as valuable as our male counterparts, but within the context marriage, we do not have to do and be it all. And we certainly don't have to live a life trying to keep it together all the time.
There is nothing wrong with contingency plans. Just don't let them rob you of all the goodness of the present...don't let the pursuit of plan b steal the thunder from the current plan that is unfolding for your life.