February 22, 2021
I struggled through most of my life with low self esteem. I was the chubby kid (and was picked on). I was not from one of the rich families in our small town, and I had no desire to be athletic. At six foot tall, to this day, I hate being asked if I played basketball, HA! I found solace in high school working hard on the FFA judging team and in my 4H groups.
Fast forward to college, I was one of only a handful of my classmates to move away. I had a lot of friends, and kept myself busy. I didn’t date. Similar to high school, I was the sister figure everyone wanted to have around, but not romantically.. Fast forward to my senior year of college. I met someone who, because he showed me so much attention, I chose to look past the giant red flags flying right in my face. I married him. Fighting was a normal part of our daily routine. Two years in, we had our first daughter. A year and a half later, she died unexpectedly; I spent my 29th birthday at the funeral home planning her services. Things between my husband and I did not improve. A little over a year later, I had our second daughter. Six months after that, I could not take it anymore. He had not dealt with his grief and things were really bad. One long weekend, while he was at work, I gathered my friends to help me and I left.
Enter two years of fear. While there had never been physical abuse, I thought back to a time when he said physical abuse was okay as long as it was “keeping someone in line”. He would drive past my home, my work and show up unexpectedly. If I stood up for myself, he would make a call to the police and they would show up for a mental health check and to make sure my daughter was safe. It was exhausting. Fast forward eight years, I have managed to move past most of my paranoid habits (sitting by doors, always facing an exit, triple checking locks, etc.). I have remarried and still find myself expecting responses like I had received before.
When my daughter died, people would come to me and say, “you are so strong, I don’t know how you do it”. In my mind it wasn’t about strength, it was about getting up versus giving up. Staying in bed was not going to make things better. I’m approaching my 39th birthday; as I reflect on my thirties, and realize how far I have come, I have decided it’s time to really try to find myself and push myself beyond my comfort zone. One of the things I am working on is working with a friend to bring a chapter of A Girl & A Gun to our community. Her mission is to get women comfortable with the outdoors, guns and survival. My mission is to push my comfort level. I have realized I don’t really connect to most of the people I spend my time with, so between us, establishing a chapter seemed like a logical fit. In the last three months since starting our chapter, I have learned so much, not only about guns, but about women with similar interests to mine. There’s more of them out there than I thought! Everyone of these women bring a story that has led them to join our group. What a powerful experience to learn with such amazing women.
I am finding a stronger interest in guns than I ever would have thought. I sit and talk calibers with my husband (all words that were not in my vocabulary a year ago!), I read everything I can about the second amendment, I have found new blogs written by women who are new to this, and those who aren’t, but have a mission to empower other women. I am so excited to see where this new knowledge and relationships take me as I enter into the next chapter of my life, and am so glad I chose to get up instead of give up.
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