I haven’t shared or written much about my romantic relationship. After all, here I am serving women going through divorce, leaving their partner, breaking ties, trying to show them that they are capable of doing things on their own, reminding them of their strength, even when they are alone, and showing them the path to independence through real estate. I haven’t shared much about my relationship because I didn’t want the perception to be that I was saying one thing and doing another. But through the years since my divorce I have thought a lot about what it means to be a strong independent woman.
After my divorce I spent a long time by myself. I dated here and there but nothing serious. My focus was on my girls, my career, and healing. I was, by my definition at the time, a strong independent woman. After all I was purchasing, rehabbing and selling my own homes, I was raising two kids on my own, I was single handedly taking care of things around my house, I was growing in my career, and I had found happiness in being alone.
Then along came this man. I remember having a conversation with him on a date one time telling him I didn’t feel comfortable allowing him to help and support me and my girls. I thought it would make me weak and dependent. I had spent all of this time learning to handle things on my own. I was doing my work, healing myself. What would it mean if I allowed him in? How could I call myself strong and independent?
Here’s what I’ve figured out. Being strong doesn’t mean you don’t get to lean on someone. Being independent does not mean you do things on your own. The actual definition of strength and independence now in my book is how vulnerable you allow yourself to be. That’s where the real strength lies. Sharing your innermost fears with someone that allows you the space to have those fears, opening up and allowing help when you need it, that’s independence. None of that takes away from your strength. In my opinion its actually one of the hardest, most challenging, strongest things you can do. To me, those that close themselves off to vulnerability, those that don’t allow help, are showing a fake strength. That’s a wall that you’ve built, that I built, to protect myself from feeling scared, and from being hurt. And not much comes from that. The walls just get bigger and higher, the pain and hurt actually becomes greater.
When you do the work to take down your walls, you attract a partner who is worthy of sharing your deepest, darkest moments and fears. You attract someone who actually wants to help and support you in all ways. I didn’t need Tad to save me. I had already saved myself. What I got was someone to remind me, to mirror for me, how strong I actually was, and to give me the safety to show up in my new version of strength and independence. I’m really proud of the person I have become, through all of my intentional relationships, but especially who I have become because of the support of this man. What we create in our relationship makes me better, and it makes him better too. A little bit of luck and a lot of hard work healing and redefining myself conspired to bring us together and for that I’m grateful.
What is your definition of strength and independence? How has your definition has changed throughout your life?