My wake-up call was a long time coming and yet, seemed to come in an instant. I had spent years and years in a marriage that was draining the life out of me. I lived by a belief system based on working hard to build up my husband and making myself pleasing to him in every possible way. Any perceived error or failure was just fuel to push myself even harder to do everything right. 

I played so many roles according to the occasion—arm candy, trophy wife, stay-at-home mom, middle-class housewife, hard-working CNA, top-of-the-class nursing student. I got to the point where I pulled them all off to perfection, but the more people believed my roles, the more they didn’t see me. I was dying inside because I was in a prison, restrained from being my true self.

All of this stress and pressure finally came to a head when I realized that the harder I worked and the better I performed, the worse I was treated. In essence, I was expected to be the quintessential wife, taking care of the home and everything else, be treated like I’m inferior, and then be waiting with a smile for my husband to come home. 

I couldn’t take it anymore, and thanks to the wise words of my mentor, I realized that I am my own person and can make my own decisions for my life. I wasn’t obligated to anyone or anything, and I was free to choose what I wanted most.

I chose freedom. I chose to take my life back so that I could have a life. I chose to break the images I had built and the expectations of others to save myself from a slow, miserable living death. In doing that, I saved my own life and started the journey to being who I really am. 

Every day is new and a learning experience. Every day I learn more about myself, how I think, how I was affected by all those years of being someone else to survive, and how to get back to my core nature. It’s a process, sometimes an emotional one, but  I am LIVING! I have no regrets when I take stock of my current position. All I ask myself is this: “Am I more content, and do I have more peace now than I did before?” The answer is always a resounding “Yes” without hesitation, so I know that I’m on the right road.

A wake-up call can feel traumatic, like the world has just flipped upside down, but it can also be what’s necessary to cause the greatest change. For me, it felt like my whole life and belief system got ripped apart, and it did, but what came out of it (my life) was worth all the pain and upheaval. I wouldn’t trade any of it if that’s what it took to get me to where I am now.