By Kym B.
“The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.” ― Napoleon Hill
And boy have I been through several hurricanes in my life, that I think I have the strength of the tallest tree in the forest.
But, one life challenge particularly stands out that encompasses my overall life: the strength to live my life, on my own terms.
A few years ago, when I was quickly approaching 45, and just suffered my second mini stroke, I looked back at all my accomplishments that I have achieved and failures that pushed me into those accolades.
I realized that not one of those achievements were for me. Sad but true. As an international professional, my job took me to every country in the world and paid very well, and I hated it; but, it allows me to maintain the lifestyle for my family.
As an accommodating and caring wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend I’m always considered the “reliable one.” And everything that I did was never for me. I lived my life for others, while compromising my own identity.
It was a great life – but not mine.
I didn’t realize how strong I was until I decided to reclaim my life, and do what I wanted to do.
A small task, that should indeed make others scream for joy; or so, I thought.
However, I was not ready for the uproar that happened. Never in my life did I think that my wanting to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it would disrupt everyone else’s universe.
No longer did I attend family functions if I had other plans; therefore I was being distant. No longer would I be able to help with homework; I was called an uncaring mother. No longer did I tend to every need of my husband; therefore “I’ve changed.”
And in fact I did change, for the betterment of me. That meant others also had to learn to stand on their own two feet as well. I carried them long enough. It was time for us all to grow. Growth develops strength through pain. Growth is not healthy unless you have the strength to cut off, purge and remove those people, places and things that are killing you.
My guilt of loving me was overwhelming. I didn’t understand why I was the only one happy.
My health was getting better, and I enjoyed doing things that I’ve always wanted to do.
Yet, my inner circle could not be happy for me. That is when I had to learn another layer of strength; the power lesson that is the toughest one of all – believing in yourself. There is an old saying that if you believe in yourself you can achieve anything – cliché but true.
Khalil Gibran said, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
And if you have the battle wounds, baby believe me, you strength will carry you through!
Kym B. is an International Policy Analyst for the US Department of State and she owns a clothing design boutique with her daughter. Follow her on Twitter @AlwaysRich777
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